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Developing Highly Effective Retailers

Seven Strategies to Improve Yourself as a Business person

The seven habits of highly effective (fill in the blank). It seems like every category of people has had a book created for their particular niche.  It seems more people have duplicated Dr. Steven Covey's format than any other book. However, there does not appear to be one for the retailer. Not wanting our industry to be slighted, for the last column of the millennium, we present, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Retailers".

BE CREATIVE - Update the ways in which you hire, train, and compensate your employees.  Reconsider the way you advertise - try promoting to your current customers.  Examine the way your store is laid out and merchandise is displayed.  Remember how the chain stores and category killer stores changed the way business was done in years’ past?  There will definitely be another change as the years continue.

THINK OUTSIDE YOUR CURRENT TRADE AREA - If the demographics of your trade area were to change, could you respond quickly enough to change your store or to move it to another location?

Another way to hedge this bet is to look at how you can change your business to draw customers to your business as compared to settling for just serving the neighborhood or community.

EXECUTE - My first thought is to remember the old story of three birds sitting on a fence.  One decided to fly away. How many are left? The answer is three.  You see he decided to do something about it.  But, he didn't do it.  Decisions don't make changes, executing does.

This writer's Father had a saying of, "Not to decide, is to decide." This is another problem we retailers too often face; we are undecided when presented with an opportunity.  When you are exposed to a new idea, find a way to try it while still minimizing your financial exposure.  For, the business which fails to change in the next century is planning to fail.

EDUCATE YOUR EMPLOYEES - Most businesses will train their employees.  Witness the person walking into a fast food restaurant asking for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. The cashier says, "Would you like some apple pie to go with that?"

The fast food restaurant has trained the employees to repeat a certain sentence.   The business which decides to educate an employee, not train, is creating a person who thinks – not only for the business, but for themselves and for the customer.  Everyone wins.

A second thought is to look at a business in which the owner requires their approval on every return, yet trusts the same employee with the keys to the front door of the store.  The same store which contains thousands of dollars of inventory and equipment.  If the employee can be trusted with the keys, can't they be trusted to make a decision?

YOU DO MAKE MISTAKES - Admit them; to yourself, your spouse, and your employees.  Explain the logic of why something was tried and ask for their assistance in making an improvement. If you make a habit of looking at what you are doing, and looking with a critical eye, you and those you share with will have an improved view which will help you increase your successes.

However, do not go overboard with this self criticism.  There are way too many retailers working 70 - 80 hours each week in an effort to "make it better" or "get it all done".  This simply does not work.  The more hours you spend, you will find yourself doing more of the tasks that even a part time high school student could be doing for you.  You also lose your personal life and chance to relax.

STAY FOCUSED - Remember there are certain jobs within the business which only you can perform.  Think about your salary, and divide it by 40. (As if a manager or owner could only work 40 hours) This number should represent a guide to the value of your time.

While in the previous step, we discussed the tendency to get into too many details, we also have a tendency to fail to take care of the items which only we can handle. You are probably the one individual who can most affect the bottom line of the business.  Do the things which will affect the business in a POSITIVE manner.

RENEW AND REFRESH YOURSELF - OK, maybe we have convinced you to take a vacation once each year.  But if not, how about a compromise and decide to attend a national trade show and a show produced by one of your wholesalers.

Let's take it another step further, and invite you to take your spouse to the show.  Let's add one or two days to the travel so you can have the opportunity to relax and enjoy seeing the city.  There are so many neat things to see and do in Las Vegas.

And while you are at the show, invest in yourself by taking in some of the seminars.  The trade show has many great educational opportunities where you can learn new ideas of enhancing the sales and profitability of your business.

APPRECIATE AND ENJOY YOUR CUSTOMERS - Wait a minute.  Isn't this an eighth step?  Yes it is.  But, this is such an important item.  After all, aren't you in this business because you enjoy it and talking with other people about it? And, this is what separates your business from the chain store.  There is also an eighth step for another reason - give them more than they expect.  It is always appreciated.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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