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Tips and How-To

Andy Koehn




writing April 19, 2010 from West Bend, WI

[h3]What a crazy day to start this journal. This would have been my wife’s 42nd birthday, but she died last August.[/h3]

I mention it because I have a feeling some of the things that I report will be laced with deeper-meaning-type things. I tend to get that way often because what we do for a living is not our life, it’s only a part of it. We shouldn’t forget that because good or bad, we are lucky to be in this industry.

We had our obligatory Monday morning staff meeting. If you don’t have regular staff meetings, you are missing out. It started out slow because we don’t have a tight agenda, but we’re a bit looser than most stores I know, and I love it.

I like to review our storewide goal as well as individual contributions to assess our progress in any given month. One of the sales staff mentioned that she wasn’t doing very well this month and it was puzzling to her because she was doing “everything she is supposed to do” to make her goal. She crushed the previous four months and her sudden dip didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I’ve read it and seen it in my own life: the natural rhythm of this world is to move forward at some times, and backwards at others. The tides come in and go out. The sun rises and sets. Our foot traffic is off the charts for a day or two, and shortly thereafter we can’t seem to buy a customer. Sales goals come easily, and then they don’t.


I explained that, when low tide comes, the best thing is to keep working toward your goals without panicking. As long as you consistently take action despite evidence to the contrary, things will turn around and the tide will come back in. This seemed to help, and we all had a great day.

APRIL 20, 2010
I don’t want to get all political here but I’m a Hearts On Fire retail partner, and in my world they are the best brand on the planet. I just got done with a conference call about some of their initiatives, and not only are they listening to me, but they are taking action. I respect my vendors to be sure, but HOF goes much further than any company I’ve ever experienced to help us be successful. They get it in spades: we’re all in this together. It makes me want to do better for them in return. Seriously, how cool is that?

APRIL21, 2010
Got a call today from a rival magazine about something we do here that gets quite a bit of conversation. (I won’t mention the magazine, but its initials are J, C and K.) Several years ago I started to get our bridal customers’ autographs, but not the typical way. We ask them to sign our walls while the excitement of the proposal is still fresh. Our walls are covered in graffiti, and while it may not be the most elegant backdrop you’ve ever seen, it is something we’re proud of. 

APRIL22, 2010
I just got done talking about the logistics of the remodel. I’m giving the store a total facelift — inside and out.

The problem is that there isn’t anything remotely logistical about my approach. Clare, my favorite English sales associate, was asking questions about how it’s going to go down: the timing … what are we going to do when “such-and-such” happens … who is going to be responsible for what — that kind of thing. I told her I’m a punter, and I trust the people I hire because that’s what they’re paid to do. In this case I was talking about my general contractor. It may be a little naïve to trust people that much, but there are worse things in life than missing a hoped-for completion date.

“You know,” Clare said, “you’re a lot like those students who start projects the night before they are due and still get an A.” I think that was a compliment, though I’ve had my share of Bs, Cs, and Ds. Better set up a meeting with the contractor. I want that A.


APRIL 23, 2010
Today was bank meeting day. I sat with my bookkeeper and a couple of bankers to iron out the details of the financing for the build-out. One of the subjects we touched on was what will happen to the business if I die. I find that death is a subject most of us are afraid to talk about so we say things like, “Do you have a contingency plan if something should happen to you?” Translation: How will we get our money back if you kick?

It’s a valid question and one that we should all have an answer for, even if we’re not currently looking for a loan. I don’t have a transition plan written out, although I do have one in the back of my mind. I would guess that’s pretty common too. Hmm, I probably shouldn’t count on a séance to communicate my wishes to this realm after I’m gone. The bottom line is I do have a plan, but it’s time to write it out and make it known to those who matter.

And so ends this journal from a week in the life of Andy Koehn as business guy. How bizarre that it started with the thought of a death and ended on the same subject. Who knew that’s where this would go? Life is so cool sometimes.

[h2]The tides come in and go out. The sun rises and sets. Our foot traffic is off the charts, then we can’t seem to buy a customer. [/h2]



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