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Setting your business apart from competition

Sales of items that have the logos or mascots of the universities and professional teams that win national championships are in hot demand. Some of the people who are buying this merchandise are steadfast fans while others are the “Johnny- come-lately” type.

Kids use the term “frontrunner” to describe other kids who have suddenly decided to become a fan of a championship or popular team. This newly popular team has done something to cause it to have a greatly enlarged fan base.

Frontrunning is also apparent in the retail marketplace. For example, mail-order catalog specialists L.L. Bean and Land’s End have become household names. Among department stores, Nordstrom is known for its legendary service. Attend almost any trade show and you can usually spot the current frontrunner manufacturer or wholesaler by the manner in which it has presented itself.

People want to do business with a frontrunner because they traditionally make such an effort to take care of their customers. Creativity in marketing is crucial if you want to join the ranks of the frontrunners.  Look around your business and decide how a creative surge can benefit it. Ask yourself the following:

Will your employees - your “team” - or the physical appearance of your facility, benefit?
What is the state of your various departments?
Have you recently updated your selection of merchandise and the services that you offer?
How will your efforts benefit customers?

Rearrange your duties and your team’s duties to accomplish the objectives you’ve laid out. Come into the business earlier and leave later. Make the extra effort and let team members know that a sacrifice is being made to make a difference.

If you decide that your facility doesn’t need a creative touch, keep in mind that facilities without a positive attitude also seem to have a way of standing out. There are few long-term employees, there is no “snap” in the appearance of the facility (it always looks the same) and customers are there because of need - not want.

There will probably also be a need to “gamble” financially. The first gamble that most dealers will think of is to increase inventory levels. If this is necessary, begin with the department or product line that has shown the most growth within the past couple of years.

Prepare for the unexpected, such as unseasonably warm weather early in the season. Empowering employees with the right kind of knowledge to help your business through such a crunch time strengthens the business team while serving customers.  By meeting with your staff, outlining the problem and opportunity, demonstrating your willingness to give “frontrunner” service, your team members will be excited about this commitment to excellence.

One dealer experienced an opportunity for becoming a frontrunner when their dealership was broken into twice within a month. The burglars cut through a chain link fence that surrounded the yard. One of the team members suggested a solution to the security problem. The suggestion was reviewed and quickly implemented - and it worked.

This type of action enables your team members to view your dealership as a frontrunner. It demonstrates that you are concerned about having a profitable and long-term operating business.  Customers will also sense this type of frontrunning, and if you are fortunate, they will compliment your team. It is a positive team-building experience to have a customer compliment one of your team members in regards to the business at which they work. Your team members will be proud to know that they not only work for a frontrunner, but that they are also considered one.

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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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