Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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A Slice of the Pie

Enjoying being a part of an American tradition

Remember "Happy Days"? It involved a family of four. As part of the story line, the father owned a business. The son, played by Ron Howard, worked part time in the store. The show presented an enjoyable view of an American lifestyle that the show's writers probably thought was only a memory of days gone by.

We suggest that this lifestyle continues to flourish today. One of several places we can find this is with the people who manage, work in, and own small businesses. An experience many retailers have been fortunate to have is to hear customers remark how much they enjoy browsing through your businesses, and how much they think they would enjoy working in, or perhaps owning, a business similar to yours.

When I shop, my wife requires that I give her my money and credit cards as I go into a store. Put me in a store where the sales help is friendly and outgoing, and I can help them reach their sales goal in a flash. Why does this relationship develop between a business and a customer?

It will happen in the business in which the owner recognizes what he is truly selling. For example, it is not clothing and related items. What the best businesses are selling to their customers are "feelings" in the form of self-esteem, satisfaction, and pride.

It was comments made by a friend that started this story over a year ago. He made a career move, leaving after 15 years what had grown to become a cold and impersonal bank for a position with a children's hospital. He took a pay cut of 40% in making the move, but during the decision-making process gave serious consideration to purchasing a retail business.

Like our example, he was a frequent shopper and browser of businesses where he could meet and visit with the owner or manager. He liked what he saw in these stores and the enjoyment that these people have in their work. He saw a kind of special appeal in owning a business. I believe small businesses that sell these unique "feelings" are fortunate enough to enjoy a slice of the proverbial "American pie", or perhaps as my friend says, "being able to smell the roses."

As with many things in life, when you stop to smell the roses, you can find more roses to smell. Throughout the year, you have the opportunity to experience a number of events that prove this theory to be true. One event you can all experience is a trade show or educational seminar. No matter what size your business, the opportunity to share a meal or an afternoon break with a fellow retailer shows a kinsmanship like no other business. Small-business people share their plans, experiences, and problems.

This type of experience isn't common to other professions. Ask someone you know in another profession, what happens when they get together, and what assistance they give each other. Why this fascination with small business?

There are so many stories that are told about stores and the people who own them. You can hear Kenny Rogers mention the corner drug store that he worked in. You can also hear the fondness for the neighborhood store as a part of the song "Twenty Years Ago" sung by Alabama, or "God Bless the Little Man" by Alan Jackson. The long-running show "Cheers" talked about the place that Sam Malone owned and how it was "where everybody knows your name." Small businesses seem to be able to get more than their share of human-interest stories, as shown by these examples.

One of the most popular drivers in NASCAR history, Bill Elliott, is the son of a small-business owner. His son, Chase is a NASCAR driver today. The story is told that Bill's dad and family are very loyal to the brand of cars Bill used to race - so loyal that they would gladly tote the merchandise to your car, but only if it is the same brand of car that Bill drove.

And a nationally syndicated humorous newspaper columnist was commenting about the problems with movies today. He thought that viewers had a hard time relating to heroes who were spies, renegade police officers, or unique professionals. The writer stated that movies would be more realistic if we got these stars "back into running the neighborhood stores."

You may hear or read the story of a small business that was there to help. Often it occurs as the Make a Wish Foundation helps a terminally ill child or youth to fulfill a dream. I have seen the pictures and heard the stories of that child being beautifully outfitted by a local business so as to make the dream as enjoyable as possible.

How many times have YOU heard someone come into your business and comment how much he or she enjoys looking around? And, have you noticed that when you add a new employee, how quickly he becomes a part of the community? We hope you enjoyed our reminiscing. Aren't you glad you're a small business? You are a rare and proud part of Americana, of which more people want to become a part. We hope you enjoy your piece of the pie.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars, Profits Plus Solutions coaching, books authored, and articles written. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his web site:

Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179