Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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Five signs to take off

Preparing Your Business for a Sale

In many of the television stores that you walk into, they are using a video of the movie "Top Gun" to demonstrate the quality of their products.  Every stereo television with THX or surround sound uses the movie.  The music is exciting, there is a lot of action, and there is a plot with a happy ending -if you stay in the store long enough to see it. No matter how many times you have already seen the movie, you always want to stop for a couple of minutes to sit and watch. You hope that one of your favorite parts with some of the neat action in the air will be shown soon.

In any of the scenes where the jet fighter is sitting on the deck of the aircraft carrier, there is a standard sequence of events that take place between the pilot and the air boss, the sole individual standing on the deck.  It is the sequence of hand gestures that are used to check with each other to see that they are both ready for the mission ahead. They must both be ready.  This is a team effort.  There may be only one pilot and one jet, but if the air boss has not made sure that the aircraft is ready, and that the pilot has acknowledged it, the pilot will surely lose.  True, it is always the pilot that is played by a Tom Cruise, and the name of the air boss is never known.  But he is important.  Just ask the pilot.

From the movie, the first sign involves closing both hands into fists with thumbs pointing out.  The pinkies are butted against each other.  The air boss moves the two hands apart when he knows that the chocks have been removed.  Chocks are the two large blocks that are placed around each of the tires of the aircraft to prevent it from moving. 

When the chocks have been removed, the sign is given to the pilot. In our business, we too can have the initial check off that the air boss and pilot have.  Perhaps the scenario would play out as we prepare our store for an upcoming sale circular.

In our stores, perhaps the chocks are capital so that inventory is on hand.  The owner is the air boss, and must make sure that the store has on hand what is necessary for a sale. There may be those that are responsible for ordering the merchandise, but it is the owner that has the ultimate responsibility to see that the store is ready.  The owner knows that the inventory is on hand, and the chocks are removed.

The second hand sign is raising the right hand from waist level to above the head in a twisting motion.  With an aircraft, this sign is given after the air boss has given the jet a walkabout and determined that he does not see or hear anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps in our store, this is the walkabout that the manager performs to determine that the merchandise is on the shelf, the endcaps have been attractively created, and sale signs are placed throughout the store.

Sign number three is a thumbs up sign from the air boss to the pilot and the thumbs up sign from the pilot to the air boss.  This says that through this important procedure of taking off, each person is aware of the other person's presence. Perhaps in our store, with a sale or even with every day, it is the motion of telling each other that we are there to support each other.  The first thought that came to mind was the saying that "the customer is number one".  Somehow this seems to translate to "the customer is always right". 

We would like to make that so, but all of us have experienced the customer that is out of bounds. If instead, our employees are number one, and are treated as such, then they are more apt to treat their customers in the same manner.  It is with this that we give each other a thumbs up sign.

The fourth sign is a formal salute between the air boss and the pilot.  It is a vote of confidence to say that I know you can do it.  In our store, it can be the owner that is giving this sign to his team to say that he has confidence in them. And by showing our confidence in our team members, we know that they will do all they can for us.

The fifth sign is a gesture involving the right arm and hand with the hand starting at the left shoulder and then the hand and arm moving across the body and pointing to the far right. It is also accompanied by the air boss getting out of the way.  With that, the jet roars, and is soon off the end of the aircraft carrier and into the air. The doors are open, and our team members await the customers walking in our door.  We are prepared to assist them as they come to shop our store.

When we have a sale circular for our store, the two biggest expenses are for the inventory and the sale circulars and their distribution.  At worst, the cost of the inventory can be recovered. But the flyer and its' distribution are an expense with no chance of recovery if we do not take advantage of it. 

It does seem like the five steps to takeoff, with their low cost have the best chance of bringing our "jet" to a successful mission.

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