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Store without an Owner

The story of a personal crisis

During the Christmas season one year, we held a party at our home for all of our team members. The highlight of the party for our family was the announcement of the anticipated arrival of twins at the Shay household in the following summer. During the party, we made a strong point to announce that it was our intention to spend considerably less time in the store for the next year. The comment from several team members was to ask if I was only going to be in the store "part time", did that mean only 40 hours per week?

In addition to creating some family time, this was to have been an opportunity to challenge our team to step up and operate the store without the boss being present. Unfortunately, there were many projects and opportunities to face during the spring and summer. The "part time job" never occurred.

During the past two years, the growth of our staff had been tremendous. For over ten years, management was always performed by one of the members of our immediate family. When the rest of the family retired two years ago, it was necessary to rearrange duties. There were many tasks that team members took upon themselves so that we could explore and make plans for the continued growth of our store. Most all of our business procedures, and methods of operation, have been review with many of them being changed.

On July 16, our family was blessed with the birth of our twin sons, Darren and Blake. There was a period of about ten days that the store was one of the last places we thought of. But after that, we were back in the store.

On August 8, all was changed as Blake was rushed to the hospital with a near fatal heart malfunction. After spending four hours in the emergency room, Blake spent more of the next two months in the intensive care unit of All Children's Hospital than he spent at home in his crib with his brother. There were many days and evenings spent in the hospital as the pediatric cardiologists worked to find a medicine that would lessen the chance of Blake's heart having another malfunction.

All in all, there were three ambulance rides, three stays of varying length in three hospitals. We spent more time in the hospital than we did in the store or at home. Some of the warmest remembrances of this ordeal, came because of the many individuals that worked at the hospitals.

From chaplains to doctors and nurses, and hospital orderlies to hospital officials, we had many members of the medical team that we began to know by name, individuals that we had previously only known as faces that shopped at our store.

On occasions when we went to the hardware store, we found that often our team members were up to date regarding Blake, because someone from the hospital had stopped in to inform them.

To jump ahead a couple of years, Blake and Darren are at home enjoying each other and being the center of attention for Mom and Dad and big sister Amanda. The center point of the story is not Blake, but instead the team members of our store that took charge.

One of the routine tasks that we had always performed was that of payroll preparation. As it turned out, there were more than one occasion where hospital needs delayed our completing this task. On each occasion, Bob Sheridan, one of our team leaders, made a point to check with all of the team members and see who was in immediate need of money. Bob offered to advance them the necessary funds, knowing that the payroll would be completed within hours of the usual completion time.

All of the work that is involved with accounts receivable, scheduling, sales flyers, weekly inventory ordering and processing, as well as the multitude of tasks that become taken for granted in hardware stores, were handled with great skill. Sales continued to grow as that year was our best year to date. We had even started to prepare our store for scanning, a project that continued, although at a slower pace, during our absence.

The last two quarters of the year brought to us a new team member, Doug Daggy, an individual who had management experience in hardware stores. Again, one of our team management members had been introduced to Doug, and did the necessary research to verify credentials, and make arrangements for his joining our team.

Now that the family emergency had been resolved, we were able to concentrate on our future5 plans. One of our goals is an effort to reduce expenses. There would be many hours of reviewing all aspects of our store. From our positive experiences of these experiences, several team members have shown new leadership skills. As we have sat together as a management team, there have been new goals established for our store. Individuals have found certain aspects of our goals that they feel they are best qualified to handle, and began to make plans to assume these responsibilities. As has been our experience, when team members are allowed to be responsible for their ideas, the quality of work improves quickly and dramatically.

During the first quarter of the next yearthere will be more of the tasks and assignments that had always been reserved for ourselves are now being assumed by team members. And if we are going to grow our store, we need to work so that our work resembles a ship at sea.

There are times when we need to be steering, as well as times when we will be working with our team members in the daily routine, or waiting on customers. And as we work with our team members, we need to bring them along, probably in the same manner that we were when we first entered the hardware business.

But most important, is the need for a substantial part of our time to be spent at our discretion so that we can plot a course for the future of our business. And while there are days that the store doesn't work right, it appears that we have a team that has taken a step to assist our store in fulfilling the requirements of management - that is to accelerate the growth of its' team members.

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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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