Articles for Retailers - Kizer & Bender

Little (retail) Life Lessons
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

Things can get pretty intense in our office sometimes. Between clients and prospects and promises and deadlines, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of the everyday. And that’s not good, for us or for our business.

We have a chalkboard wall so we can keep track of our musings, rants, and advice to one another. In no particular order, here are our favorites:

Do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to do things that break your pattern. Know what we do? We go fishing. We never catch anything, but that’s okay because that’s not really the point. There’s something about sitting in that peaceful environment that sets our creativity on edge. Some of our best ideas have come while sitting with our feet in the water while enjoying a warm PB&J.

Start now. Don’t think you can wait until tomorrow to do whatever is important to you today. That opportunity will pass; your kid will only be little once; your spouse deserves your attention, and your dog needs to be walked. Your business is important, but don’t let it be everything. No one on his deathbed ever said, “I wish I had spent more time on my business.”

Find what makes you happy. If you like teaching classes, teach classes. If you like playing with displays on your sales floor, then go for it. If you don’t like doing something you won’t do it well. Hire or assign someone to do it for you.

Hang out with friends. Start your day with fellow business owners at your local coffee shop. If there’s no time for that, then catch up with friends on Facebook. Make lunch or dinner plans with friends at NAMTA. Better yet, go in a day early and visit local shops with your pals.

Own it. No more passing the buck. If you did it, said it, or bought it; deal with it.

Reinvent your business. 10 percent of your business changes dramatically every year. Items stop selling, trends fizzle and fade, new product replace those once sacred cows. Your job is to reinvent your business to the tune of at least 10 percent each and every year. If you have done nothing in the last five years to reinvent your store, you could be close to being 50 percent obsolete.

If your original path isn’t working for you, choose another. Your store is a living, breathing entity; nothing about it should stay the same for long. Shake up your sales floor. Add a new department or two. Lose what isn’t working and find something that does.

Stop playing it safe. If you’ve ever said, “But we’ve always done it that way”, you’re in a rut. You can’t make big things happen if you are not willing to stretch and learn. Don’t just put your toes in the water; jump in!

Say thank you and really mean it. It feels good when someone notices something you did for them and says thank you, doesn’t it? Send a handwritten note each week to someone who did something nice for you. Georganne found the teacher who had a big impact on her life and sent her a note – 30 years later. There’s not statute of limitations on a sincere thank you.

Toot your own horn. You are really wonderful, did you know that? Does your community know it? Contact your local medias and pitch stories about your store, product lines, services, events and promotions, charity work, your people, trips to trade shows – all the cool things you do. Eighty percent of the stories that appear in local medias come from a press release. Send one for each legitimately newsworthy thing you do in your store.

So, take a look at where you are today and where you’d like to be tomorrow. Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Sound advice from a fictional high school kid who was smart enough to realize that even he needed to refocus on what’s important every once in a while.

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S.