This post is part 2 of a 5-part series for the Retail CEO Challenge. Read the other parts here: part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5

When I started Savvy Shopkeeper, I quickly learned that there is no “perfect paper planner” for independent retailers. Part of the reason is that many independent retailers have unique business models or different needs. 

That’s why I created the Shopkeeper’s Planning and Tracking worksheets three years ago.  Since then, I’ve improved the worksheets and added to them based on feedback from the Savvy Shopkeeper community. 

Many retail business owners from the community have used these worksheets to lay the foundation for their own customized planner!

Building Your CEO Planner

If you’ve signed up for this year’s challenge, you should have received an email with these instructions. 

1. Buy or reuse a three-ring binder. Personalize it with your logo or stickers—whatever feels right to you—so that you are motivated to use it!

2. Pick and choose the worksheets that work for your own business.  

3. Download, print, and punch holes into each worksheet.

4. Add them to your 3-ring binder.

This is how you start to build a customized planner that works for you. It’s what I do in my own business, and I love it! 

I don’t use every worksheet in the bundle that I’ve designed or created.  Like I recommend to group members or anyone who joined the challenge, I choose the worksheets that work for my own home decor business. I build a planner that works for MY business and needs.

What Are Systems & Processes?

When retailers tell me they don’t have enough time in a day, this is usually one of the major culprits. Setting up systems and processes in your business can save you hours each week.

A process is a series of steps or actions performed to achieve a particular goal and forms part of a more extensive system.

Said differently, processes are all the related activities (parts) inside the system that work together to make it function.

Real-Life Examples of Systems & Processes

When I say systems and processes, I sometimes get that look on a dog when he tilts his head and has no idea what it is that you’re speaking to him. 

Let’s look at some examples.

The CEO Planner

This is the system that has allowed me to truly understand what’s going on in my own business. It’s my hub where I analyze my information so I can see what’s happening, where I need to improve, what we need to eliminate, and plan for the future.  

The system is the binder planner itself. The processes are each worksheet and the year-end report I’ll talk about in Episode 58.  

By using this system, I’m not neglecting or avoiding some of the essential information about my business throughout the year. The processes are critical because having something designed for retailers saves time throughout the year.

My Store’s Custom Painted Services System

There are multiple processes involved when we take a customer on the journey, from inquiring about our services to delivering a finished furniture piece.

When we first opened, we didn’t have a system for this, and it was obvious. We were floundering. We looked unprepared, unprofessional, and inconsistent. It was clear that we needed a system.

Not only does a system help you look and feel prepared as a business owner, but you’ll also see it creates efficiency. And when I only work 12-20 hours per week in my retail business, efficiency is KEY.

So let me break it down for you. Here are the processes in our system for Custom Painted Furniture Services.

  • Website page (or hard paper copy)
  • Online form 
  • Quote (pricing structure)
  • Scheduling (digital calendar)
  • Consultation/Drop Off
  • Written Agreement (terms and deposit)
  • The work/service is performed
  • Pickup (with care instructions form)

My Store’s Processes for the Arrival of New Inventory

If you order from markets like America’s Mart and the Dallas Market Center, you’re receiving pallets and shipments from your vendors throughout the year. Here are our processes for this system: 

  • Arrival/Accepting
  • Unboxing/unpackaging
  • Pricing
  • Data Entry
  • Labeling
  • Storing or Merchandising

Why We’re Creating Systems & Processes During the Retail CEO Challenge

Several of the worksheets in the Retail CEO Challenge bundle are designed to specifically tackle systems and processes.  

Using these worksheets and seeing results from them will hopefully inspire you to create more systems and processes in your business.

You’ll see how this saves you time and creates uniformity for everyone on your team.  You won’t have team member A saying/doing one thing while team member B says/does another, resulting in a confused or frustrated customer or a confused and frustrated business owner.

If you’re a one-person shop, don’t neglect setting up systems NOW. In the future, when you do grow your team, training them will be so much easier.

Worksheets You’ll Find in the Retail CEO Challenge

If I were to divide the worksheets from the Retail CEO Challenge into categories, there are worksheets for systems, worksheets for tracking, and worksheets for analyzing. 

These are the systems worksheets inside the challenge:

The Marketing Calendar 

Are you winging it with social media or event planning?  This is a simple 12-month calendar with important retail dates and holidays that can help you plan for the year.

Event Planning Worksheet

I know many of us aren’t hosting in-person events right now, but online events take some planning and effort too. Not only does the event-planning worksheet help you plan, but it’s also a “system and process” tool. It lays out the steps you need to take to host the event. Part B of the worksheet also gives you the information you need to review the event’s results and outcomes.

Daily Cash Drawer Report

This worksheet is most likely one process of many in your opening/closing system. It is a simple tool and system for all team members to track your daily cash drawer (yes, even something as simple as this can be considered a system!). 

I can’t tell how many retailers were happy when I added this to the line-up of worksheets. We get so busy in our businesses that sometimes the simple things get left behind and neglected.

Order Form

Another simple worksheet, but personally one my sister and I use often.  

An order form may not apply to all retail businesses. Our business does have some products that we either have custom made or that we personalize, so a simple order form creates a uniform system where anyone in my business can see the status of an order placed with us. 

We use this for custom-made stools, personalized growth charts—we even use it for pre-orders where we have paint drop-shipped to our customers.  So this form, even in its simplicity, is extremely helpful in MY OWN business.

Shopkeeper’s Report

This worksheet is another process in your opening/closing system. It can be used to track daily or weekly information about your shop. Even recording a detail like weather can be an important piece of information for a shopkeeper. If you’re in a cold winter climate like me, you know that blizzards can keep people indoors, and it can reflect why sales might be low for a day. 

If daily sales goals are important to you and your business, this is a critical piece of information to track for brick and mortar store owners.

There’s Still Time to Join the Retail CEO Challenge!

To summarize, systems and processes are extremely valuable in ANY business. If you often think “I don’t have enough time,” then setting up systems is one tool that can alleviate A LOT of frustration in your business.

The effort we put into systems is a significant reason why we were able to work half as much (literally we cut our hours in half—on average, I only worked 12-18 hours per week in my store in 2020!) while we profited more in 2020, even during a pandemic.

Want to join in on the Retail CEO Challenge and set up the systems and processes you need to work less, profit more? Click here to join

The 2021 and 2022 Retail CEO Challenges are now closed. However, all of the worksheets, including the Business Health Checklist and Year-End Report are available in the Shopkeeper’s Lab. Members can find these in the CEO Time + Worksheets module. Click HERE to learn more.



  • [02:43] Building Your CEO Planner
  • [04:25] What Are Systems & Processes?
  • [05:18] Real-Life Examples
  • [17:11] Why We’re Creating Systems & Processes in the Retail CEO Challenge
  • [19:00] Worksheets You’ll Find in the Retail CEO Challenge
  • [23:25] There’s Still Time To Join!

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    1. Hi Susan, Thank you for asking and I’m sorry for the delay in responding! I’m just seeing some of the comments on this post. I’ll be bringing the Challenge back in January 2022. If you’re on my email list, you’ll find out about the challenge as soon as it opens up again. Many of the worksheets are also available to group members – you can join one of our groups here:

    1. Hi Maribeth, I’ll be bringing the Challenge back in January 2022. If you’re on my email list, you’ll find out about or check back here around that time. Thanks for asking! Many of the worksheets are also available to group members – you can join on of our groups here:

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