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What to Do About the Sister-in-Law’s Idiotic Plan for a Social Media Event, and Other Questions Answered

And what to consider when investing in that expensive new laser welder.

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What do I do about my sister-in-law’s idiotic plan for a social media event? I’ve outlined a much better idea, but she stubbornly refuses to get it.

Work on your diplomatic skills. You could keep on explaining your much better idea four or five more times, but it will have no effect. That’s just polarizing. Instead, take a non-oppositional approach by asking, “What would change your mind?” For example: “I’m concerned that if we ask people to take selfies with our store mascot and no one does, it will reflect badly on us. What would you need to see to change the concept?” This prompts your sister-in-law to admit that she could imagine changing the idea, while also giving her a chance to articulate why she has glued herself to this concept. And that tells you how to frame your argument in terms of addressing her priorities.

Tuesday is the end of our work week, and I just can’t get much done. Any ideas?

While such slumps are normal, they’re not inevitable. If, despite all your efforts to inspire yourself, you just don’t seem to be able to get much self-directed or “deep” work done, give up and fill the day with other less mentally demanding tasks that still need accomplishing, such as rosters or a discussion with staff on how the previous week went and what obstacles they may be encountering in their work. Another option is to schedule calls with vendors or important customers. Engaging with live voices will shake you from your stupor. Finally, if all else fails, aim to get some mindless, repetitive tasks out of the way. It’s unlikely to be important work, but at least it’s something.

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So another year when my resolutions have failed already. Give me a quick and dirty hack so that I can at least give up some of my bad habits this year.

The best quick hack we can offer to eliminate bad habits is to replace them with specific new habits. In his classic guide to the mental side of peak performance, The Inner Game Of Tennis, W. Timothy Gallwey noted: “There is no need to fight old habits. Start new ones instead.” Donuts with your 2 p.m. coffee killing your diet? Start a habit of leaving the store at 1:55 p.m. and going for a walk around the block. Can’t force yourself to go to the gym? Take up badminton or something you actually enjoy.

We’re planning a big sale to clear some inventory. Any tips?

When it comes to sales, price matters, says Bob Nelson, president of Power Retailing and author of 1001 Ways To Reward Employees. So be prepared to discount aggressively, especially on anything that’s been hanging around close to a year (and go easy on your newer fast movers). Use a similarly aggressive approach to your advertising. At the very least, do a mailer/e-mail blast of your entire customer list. The ads should mention the type of sale, starting date, categories offered and markdown percentages. Radio and Facebook ads are good ways to ramp up the “Act Now” urgency. Finally, make sure you’ve got big signage in the store. Once the sale begins, Nelson advises that you keep an eye out for slow-moving categories. Change the displays and make even bigger markdowns if there seems to be little interest in a particular product. Don’t make customers play the stupid retail game “find the price” and the sales tag. Throughout the sale, it’s important that customers do not think the best items have already been sold. Display fixtures must always appear to be as full as possible. If you need to buy additional merchandise for the sale, keep this in mind: The first few days will have the largest customer impact.

I’m thinking of splurging on a laser welder. Should I do it?

High-tech tools are glamorous and seductive and nearly always popular with your shop workers, but they can also be deceptively expensive once you tote up the servicing, training and other costs. The key issue here is whether the welder will pay for itself. When it comes to machinery, the rule of thumb is that such tools should be generating a return within two to three years. If they don’t, the money would have been better spent on something else with a higher return. Don’t forget that cheaper, older models are an option (as is outsourcing). Finally, don’t think you can install the newest, highest-tech CAM system and begin taking orders right away. There is always a training lag.

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Thinking of Liquidating? Wilkerson’s Got You Covered

Bil Holehan, the manager of Julianna’s Fine Jewelry in Corte Madera, Calif., decided to go on to the next chapter of his life when the store’s owner and namesake told him she was set to retire. Before they left, Holehan says they decided to liquidate some of the store’s aging inventory. They chose Wilkerson for the sale. Why? “Friends had done their sales with Wilkerson and they were very satisfied,” says Holehan. He’d enthusiastically recommend Wilkerson to anyone looking to stage a liquidation or going-out-of-business sale. “There were no surprises,” he says. “They were very professional in their assessment of our store, what we could expect from the sale and they were very detailed in their projections. They were pretty much on the money.”

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