This time, humorist and self-described furniture sage writes about downsizing and chronic under-sizing in retail furniture stores.
Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)
Did you know: That our industry… bless it, is totally – 100% dependent -- on the talents and entrepreneurship of its people. People are more important than capital, design, brand names or manufacturing capacity.
Did you know that our people are the "Pearls and Jewels and Hopes of our industry." Also that managing people is, "like a sharp pitcher's balancing act in the sand box, with only one foot on the ground." A-n-d: It's also a "pitcher’s inside prayer with only one eye open."
Who discovered all these unbelievable business thoughts? None other than Grandpa Mike-e-e!
Lately, this 104-pound hulk has been taking a very close look at America's No.l health past-time: Personal Downsizing.
I can still remember when my Bubbila signed up for a fitness club with walking exercises in the pool to help her arthritis. She got the benefits of the pool and I got the benefits of looking at everyday women exercising. Also, while there, I saw guys trying to muscle down on treadmills and lift barbells that weighed more than I do. I admire such determination.
But for me, if I ever lost or found 10 pounds, my doctor would put me in the hospital for immediate observation.
All of which finally brings me around to the point of this article which is retail downsizing and what I call chronic under-sizing. It’s a real problem in our industry and many others.
Sales floor understaffing results in lost sales at peak traffic periods. A-n-d, if this is happening to you, I bet that you are losing much more than you can possibly save by being chintzy with salaries and staffing.
Keeping fully staffed begins with these important management activities.
1. You need to be constantly on the lookout for Pearls and Jewels. You can’t rely on Hopes. What does this mean? You need to be constantly on the lookout for great salespeople, even when you don’t have current openings. Carry business cards when you are out shopping, and talk up your store as a great place to work when the opportunity presents itself. Recruit with in-store signage to attract design oriented customers who many be looking for job or a new career. If you don’t have a file of great candidates on top of your desk, you will find that your staffing runs lean too often.
2. Don’t rely on a pitcher’s inside prayer with only one eye open. Keep both eyes open! Measure your staffing needs year-over-year, by day of the week and, if possible by the hour. Begin by measuring store traffic with a traffic counter and by using an automated system to manage staffing.
Also, being lean and mean with regard to staffing results in employees who have lean paychecks and aren’t as nice to management, co-workers and customers as they should be.
A-n-d it isn’t necessary. For example, the Trader Joe’s supermarket chain invests in training their employees and pays better than the industry average. The result is better customer service and customer loyalty. A-n-d they do better than most... with profits!
3. Finally, retail IS a balancing act in the sand box. Employees are a big expense and one that’s easy to control short-term. However, unlike the pitcher who must take one foot off of the ground to throw a fastball, retailers who pitch while standing on one foot can become unbalanced. Poor staffing, running lean, often results in reduced levels of customer service that has long-term effects on how customers view buying from your store.
So use a scalpel instead of an ax. What will the accountants say? I bet you know the answer to that question! So, before taking their advice, remember to keep a long-term perspective before cutting man/woman power, training and salaries.
Thanks, again, for listening. Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90.
Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)
Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.
Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.
Graduated high school at 16.
Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.
Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.
Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.
Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.
Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.
Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.
Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.
Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.
Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.
He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."
Retired from retail management at age 70.
BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.
Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home
Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.
At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.
Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,
IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.
At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.
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