At this time of year, it is appropriate to share Holiday ideas, whether in the form of “wishes” or “resolutions”. The stressful workings of daily business sometimes can overshadow the importance of our relationship with one another. And, in our haste to “get things done,” we can easily overlook the real meanings of the Holidays. Our hope is that each of you finds time for enjoying family and friends and can reflect on the past year while looking to the coming one with renewed hope and enthusiasm.
Simon Sinek, a British-American author and motivational speaker, has been an inspiration to me over the last few years. The business wisdom shared in his five best-selling books has served as a resource for presentations at large meetings – our Fresh Foods Conference, for example – and smaller gatherings of key associates and customers. I receive an inspirational email quote from him each day, and my office wall is papered with these to serve as a daily reminder of the excitement of business and leadership. I have chosen a handful of my favorites, and they serve as a meaningful reminder of my hopes for each of you as we enter the Holidays.
MERCHANDISING TIP OF THE WEEK. Our Holiday wishes for you…
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” (Simon Sinek)
This puts pressure on both sides of this equation: the company needs to be “lovable”, and its employees must be willing to express their “love” by performing at a high level – and by being loyal through tougher times. I think, however, it all begins with the company’s feelings for its associates. If you ever find yourself saying – out loud or inwardly – “look, I’ve given you a job…what more do you expect”, you are not creating a situation where the company will be loved. And, the example you set as a leader speaks volumes about what the company truly stands for. Do you criticize customers within earshot of other associates? Do you take shortcuts with the quality of food you offer your customers? Do you overlook substandard performance because you simply “don’t want to deal with it?” Our wish is that you constantly recognize the value of your associates and treat them as friends rather than as expenses.
“Value is not determined by those who set the price. Value is determined by those who choose to pay it.” (Simon Sinek)
In our role as produce merchants, we are given the responsibility to act as advocates for our customers. That means, in some cases, we choose the level of quality we offer, the assortment we bring before them, the growers and vendors we patronize on their behalf. If we choose to compromise on any of these strictly for the sake of a lower price, we are failing in a sacred trust extended by our customers. And, if you limit the definition of “value” to simply “price”, you are underestimating what the consumer seeks. While price is important, it never overshadows quality, freshness, and taste. Our wish for you is that you recognize that your customers seek more than the lowest price, and that you re-define value to incorporate those important needs.
“We achieve more if we chase the dream instead of the competition.” (Simon Sinek)
Being aware of what your competitor offers is wise, but imitating that competitor puts you in a consistent “second place” position. Since you have a wide array of competitors, competing with all of them forces you to lose your identity. Remember your company’s “dream” and drive your efforts towards achieving that. Let others imitate you, realizing that they will never surpass what is truly in your heart. Our wish is that you focus on your uniqueness, your competitive edge, the vison that leads you to excellence – then let others envy the company you have become.
“Focus on the vision and the numbers will thrive. Focus on the numbers and the vision will struggle.” (Simon Sinek)
Simply put, design your business around the vision you have for its success. If, for example, your business vision is to “offer the best food that can be bought anywhere”, then the number of associates you hire, what you expect from them, and what you should pay those incredible folks, should all be based on that vision. You cannot wish for a “Saks Fifth Avenue” experience for your customers, then operate it in a “Discount Store” environment. Do what it takes to create the experience you want for your shoppers…sales and profits will follow. Our wish is that, in the coming years, your business is directed by leaders who understand and believe in the vision…not the way to get by with the least number of associates possible.
“It is the magical partnership of the person with their head in the clouds and the person with their feet on the ground that creates progress.” (Simon Sinek)
As you analyze the strengths of those with whom you work side-by-side each day, remember that some are great “dreamers” and the strength of others is interpreting those dreams…and making them real. When you team those two up, great things usually happen! Remember that the person with the idea can go nowhere without the “feet-on-the-ground” person. Our wish is that you create an environment where dreaming is not only allowed, but also encouraged – and that creativity in making dreams a reality is both valued and rewarded.
“Stand for people. Not a product or service or metric or number. Stand for real, living, breathing people and we will change the world.” (Simon Sinek)
No matter the level of technology thrust upon us, despite a world where clicks have replaced conversation, it all comes down to people. No matter what business, the winner will always be the company with the best people. We must realize that finding the best people to implement our dreams and visions should always be considered the most important thing we do. And, once we find those people, we should support them in any and every way possible. Our wish is that you pause during these Holidays and rejoice in the people standing next to you…those who share your dreams and aspirations.
Many Blessings and, as always, Happy Selling![/col] [/grid]