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Retailer2retailer: Change your people

By Scott Perron

We all know the industry has been experiencing an unprecedented recession stretching from late 2007 to the writing of this article. For those with the wherewithal to sustain during this economic black hole, huge opportunity lies just on the other side of would-be disaster. And, if you have the capital, infrastructure and guts to expand, you may reap an incredible increase in market share.

Why? From my view it exists for several reasons but here are the top two. First the commercial market has joined the recession and many landlords will renegotiate their leases just to keep a paying tenant from leaving. This line item on your P&L generally represents your second largest operational cost.

The second and main benefit dwells in the incredible labor pool made available by businesses that have downsized or closed their doors. Considering this expense is usually No. 1 on the list of costs associated with running your operation it is your obligation to analyze your current personnel, assess their performance, compare it to successful business models and adjust accordingly.

I am not suggesting you fire everybody tomorrow and reload with new employees. It is our responsibility to hire, train, motivate, delegate, empower, supervise and hold accountable all our personnel to the best of our ability and to give them every tool necessary to be productive, proficient and achieve their personal financial goals.

The hard truth, however, is most of us have underachievers who have been exposed to the same training and guidance as our top performers, yet they lack the desire to set and accomplish personal and business goals. It is in relation to these people I say, “If you can’t change your people, change your people.”

As an owner, your most important asset is and always will be your employees and how they represent your company. In these economic times you must constantly be seeking out the very best people until you have your dream teams. The good news in the midst of all the pain caused by this financial crisis, is it has released thousands of qualified people into the labor pool.

Opportunities coming through the door may have diminished significantly and today’s consumer certainly changed how she buys. In addition new marketing techniques are now required including outside selling, networking, cold calling and social media, which for many flooring veterans is outside of their comfort zone or against their personal beliefs.

Is this the person you want handling the next “up?”

From my experience, most of these people have an entitlement complex and there is no room for that mindset in the unique vocation of professional sales. On the last day of the month you could be the sales hero but the next day everyone starts from scratch. That’s how sales works and not only do your people have to have the stomach for it, they have to embrace it and want to explore every avenue to better their skills, using all tools available.

Now take a look at your team, envision what it will look like when it is complete, hold yourself accountable, design your plan for changing the skill sets of your staff or for recruiting new blood from this incredible cast of labor looking for a good home.

Of course, the most important part of any plan is to execute. I wish you the best of luck.