Time for Some Interesting Resolutions!
Each year begins, for many, with a list of New Year’s Resolutions—all designed to lead to self-improvement and a better lifestyle. Historically, this practice is over 4,000 years old, probably beginning with the ancient Babylonians who promised to pay debts and return any objects they had borrowed as the new year began (which, unlike ours, was in mid-March). Now, as we enter 2018, about 45% of Americans have probably made New Year’s Resolutions and—at year’s end—about 8% will report that their resolutions were successful!
While many of us scoff at the promises we make ourselves each January 1, there is some wisdom in looking backward to find a better way to move forward—hence, the value of a well-considered resolution. In that spirit, I offer a few suggestions for “business” resolutions that just might have interesting results if we choose to keep them!
MERCHANDISING TIP OF THE WEEK. Please consider the resolutions outlined below, in hopes that 2018 will find you more success and happiness than ever before.
If “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” resolve to quit “flattering” your competition! Admittedly, some—if not most—of the best ideas are probably “borrowed” from other stores and other companies. But, you must look through the eyes of your shoppers and see that they have a multitude of options for buying the products they need. If your store, your department is no different than countless others, they will shop at the one with the lowest price and the most convenient location. You must be distinctive and offer something that your competition does not: could it be an incredible cut melon section, displays that tie into recipes for unique items, in-store demos of new items that are unique to your area? Whatever your choice, you must be different, must be better at aspects of your business that will cause shoppers to drive past your competitor to shop at your store.
Resolve to quit viewing business as “us versus them”! The customer is not the enemy, and dealing with customers should never be adversarial. We all encounter that incredible “grump” who seems to get under our skin but, at the end of the day, our customers are the reason we exist. And remember there is always some degree of truth in any interaction—no matter how negative—with a complaining customer. Learn from that situation. And also realize that all associates, no matter their role, are part of a team that functions together for success. That guy out snagging carts on the parking lot (imagine that job at –10 degrees!) is as important as the lady building a beautiful display of navel oranges...or the manager writing the schedule for her produce department!
Resolve to re-emphasize freshness! Simply put, the produce department defines freshness. So resolve in 2018—and beyond—to re-emphasize freshness as you go through your daily routine of culling the department. While it’s tempting to try to stretch another day’s shelf life out of those wrinkled Gala apples, doing so violates your commitment to freshness—and sends a profoundly negative subliminal message to your customers.
Resolve to value the partnerships that can lead to success! In the spirit of “us versus them”, recognize that your suppliers (including Caito Foods!) have a stake in the success of your business. After all, the more you sell, the more they (we) sell! And these suppliers have resources that you can use to improve your operations and your department. But if every interaction between you and any supplier is based on finger-pointing and criticism, soon the relationship will struggle—and the strength of that partnership will diminish.
Resolve to educate everyone! Education leads to optimism, confidence, and sales! Educate your staff of associates about the products they offer, the consumers about how to use those products, yourself about how to be a better leader and company representative.
When an associate leaves, resolve to hire a different type of replacement! Unfortunately, we all lose associates from time to time. What better time to turn that negative into an incredible positive for your department and store. Rather than seek out someone with years of—unfortunately—poorly directed experience, seek out someone who really loves to prepare good food. Easier to teach an extremely positive “foodie” person about produce than to make a grouchy veteran into a warm, food-loving promoter of freshness and quality!
Resolve to create work/life balance! Each day, begin and end with a brief few moments of reflection about this question: “Why do I do this!” The answer, hopefully, sits across from you at the dinner table, waits for you to come home so she can tell you about what’s going on at school, enjoys watching that special television show with you. We all—at least I hope we all—do what we do for the people around us we love! Never forget that...it makes the toughest days remarkably easy!
Resolve to have—and to exhibit—courage! You need to have the courage—in some cases—to say “This is broken”! Then, of course, you need to have the courage to fix that broken aspect of your business or your life. And you have to have the courage to make decisions that have impact far beyond today. That could be as simple as throwing away a salad that’s still in date but looking shabby, or as profound as re-organizing your staff of associates to create better performance.
Let 2018 be your year of courage. Happy Selling![/col] [/grid]