A CLIENT RECENTLY SPOKE to me about his store manager’s performance. The client was frustrated because the manager wasn’t consistently following up on things like clienteling, special event prep, and so on. I asked the owner, “What did the manager say when you spoke to him about your concerns?” The response was, “Well, it’s not really that bad. He’s doing a pretty good job otherwise. We are making our goal every month, and I don’t want him to feel bad or mess up a good thing! That’s what we’re after, right? To make the goal?”
While it is true that making goal is the goal, there is future trouble in this type of sentiment.
As leaders, we improve things, situations and people. It’s our obligation to make them better. If we aren’t increasing capacity in a person, team, or business, we are not fulfilling our primary responsibility. Therefore, we must prioritize performance over popularity, especially when business is great.
Good managers use praise and recognition to build commitment, enhance morale, and reinforce desired behaviors. However, to create a culture of continuous improvement, we must acknowledge that there is room for growth, even when sales are booming.
Remember what happened when the pandemic began? Fear and uncertainty prevailed. But when jewelry retailers got their bearings, they focused on what could be controlled. They enacted curbside delivery and aggressive client outreach. They created virtual presentations and special events and moved to appointment-based selling. Owners saw what needed to be done and moved swiftly.
Today, things are much different. In 35 years, I can’t remember such widespread success. Sales are strong, bank accounts are fat and balance sheets are healthy at nearly every retailer I know … and that is the problem! Now, we clientele a little less than we did, we aren’t as reliant on appointment-based selling, and we generally don’t have time to do “everything” because we are busy. And sales are great, so what’s the problem?
In January, our company prepared clients for a “bump in the road” sometime around the middle of the year. We suspected that Covid protocols would begin to ease by then, and that there would be greater demand on the consumers’ wallets as travel and social distancing restrictions relaxed. As of this writing, we are beginning to see early signs of the pace slowing. Approximately half of our clients have seen their average sale fall more than 20 percent from its rolling 12-month high. Traffic remains strong, but I expect this will slow also as we move through the year. So, what do we do?
Simply return to the principles that got us here by asking ourselves, “What can we do better or more consistently?” We will continue to celebrate good results, but we will review results to identify potential shortfalls, determine the controllable elements and enact a plan to address them.
The bottom line is that the past year has been a rollercoaster. If you are like me, you don’t want to relinquish any ground you’ve gained. We must guard ourselves against comfort or complacency. By sharpening our critical eye to find the improvement within our success, we will do just that.