Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A Retail Success

In 1978 Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were executives of "Handy Dan" part of Daylin, Inc. Their division, Handy Dan, was making lots of money, while Daylin, Inc. was going bankrupt. They were suddenly fired!

Before they were fired, Marcus and Blank, had been experimenting at Handy Dan's by lowering the prices on some items. "They observed that when they marked down items, volume increased and costs as a percentage of sales decreased." From this successful idea they developed their step-by-step plan of action. They decided on Atlanta as their store location. Then they located two large empty stores and put on the shelves 18,000 products from plumbing, hardware, electrical, paint, and lumber.

They charged close to 1/3 less for each item. Marcus and Blank selected and trained their employees to "deliver the best customer service". They chose knowledgeable salespeople who knew about their products and were able to answer customer's questions, and direct them to the best equipment for their needs. Their expert salespeople were able to tell customers how to do the work.

Their store had everything that a homeowner or contractor needed to do their repairs under one roof for the lowest price possible.

On the first day that they opened their store, Marcus and Blank gave their children $1 bills to give out to customers as a thank you for coming in. By evening, 5pm or 6pm, their children were in the parking lot giving out a $1 to each person they could convince to come into the store.

Blank said, "It was a crushing disappointment."

Marcus said, "It looked like curtains for us. My wife wouldn't let me shave for days. She didn't want a razor in my hand."

On the third day, "a satisfied customer returned" bring with her a thank you gift of "a bag of okra for Marcus" for helping her solve her problem.

She gave them hope and then "word of mouth" brought more customers into

Marcus and Blank's, "The Home Depot" store.

Today, The Home Depot has 371,000 employees' worldwide. They sell hardware, plumbing, lumber, tools, home appliances, electrical supplies, paint, flooring, building materials, and gardening equipment and supplies. In 2014, Home Depot earned $78.812 billion in profit an increase of over $4 billion from 2013.

What are the three things you can learn from Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank about stepping-stones into success?

1) Remembering their successes with lowering the prices on certain items and saving in purchasing on volume, Marcus and Blank wrote up their step-by-step plan of action. They located two empty large buildings stores in Atlanta. On the shelves they put 18,000 products from plumbing, hardware, electrical, paint, and lumber. They charged close to 1/3 less for each item.

2) Trained employees to "deliver the best customer service". They chose knowledgeable salespeople who knew their products and were able to answer customer's questions, and direct them to the best equipment for their needs.

3) Their stores sold homeowners everything they needed in one store and their expert salespeople told them how to repair it. Contractors were able to find everything they needed in one store for the lowest price possible. It was a "Do it yourself' store.

If Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank hadn't been fired at "Handy Dan's" they would never have created "The Home Depot" and helped employ all these people worldwide giving them good jobs to take care of themselves and their families. Their store was a how to do it store that housed all the products needed under one roof for homeowners and contractors. Their store filled a need!

Napoleon Hill said, "Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty-never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

So the next time you fail at something, remember the failure of Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank and how they responded to failure by developing a new plan of action to develop their "Do it yourself" store.

By the way, have you ever heard of "Handy Dan's" before this article?

Don't let any failure stand in your way, let it be your stepping-stone to success.

Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM, John Maxwell Team Member, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach is an Amazon.com Best Selling Author, sought after speaker, business owner, teacher, researcher, and concert artist. She helps businesses and organizations "Tune Up their Businesses". Her innovative observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your businesses successful. She writes a monthly newsletter "Madeline's Monthly Article & Musical Tips Blog" and a monthly radio show "Madeline's One Minute Musical Radio Show". She has just published her new book "Leadership On A Shoestring Budget" available in print or as an e-book. To contact Madeline for your next speaking engagement

Monday, 23 February 2009

Meeting Participation Pitfalls

How well are your meetings functioning? Through this series of articles I have been highlighting the many factors that must be considered for your meetings to go well. When conducting your meetings there are several participation pitfalls that your meeting facilitator should help you avoid.

Are You Seeing Your Role in the Wrong Way?

The most serious meeting participation pitfall is the leader who wants to give the answers to everyone in the room. Don't get me wrong - there are times when we need answers from the senior leader, but those times should be rare. Great leaders see that their role in the meeting is to ask the right questions and to listen to the ideas of their team. They realize there are many ways to do things, and there is rarely only one right answer. They put big ideas on the table, ask difficult questions, and get the team to debate those ideas. Once they have heard everyone's point of view, they can then combine their team's input with their own opinions to make the best decisions possible, given the circumstances. The leader's job is to access the brains of the team, not to be the team's brain.

Do You Tend To Jump Into Problem-Solving Mode Too Quickly?

Another common mistake I see in meetings is the tendency to jump too quickly into problem-solving mode. As soon as a meeting participant raises an issue, concern, or problem, everyone moves too quickly to find a solution or provide an answer. The value of having multiple people available is to first determine which is the real problem to solve. The best tool participants can bring is the ability to ask great questions. Presenters consciously or unconsciously often leave out important information that the other participants need to know. Once these missing facts are uncovered, you may find that there is a more fundamental or broader issue to solve than the original symptom that was mentioned at the onset.

Is Everyone's Contribution Heard?

Another common meeting participation pitfall is failure of the leader of the meeting to make sure that everyone gets involved in the discussion. There are a few dimensions to this issue.

Failure to Voice Your Opinions, Questions, and Concerns. If you do not contribute, you have wasted your time and everyone else's. Everyone has something to contribute. Failure to speak up begs the question "why are you in this meeting." It is important that leaders recognize the people in the room that have lower self-confidence and tend to defer to others and make sure to access their brain power. For many people, failure to speak in meetings did not mean they did not have a lot of value to bring. The leader's job is to make sure to get that value.

Over-contributing. Have you ever attended a meeting where there is person who has to have their opinion heard on every point? They hog up all the talk time! These people seem to love to hear their own voice and think that because they are talking they are the smartest and most valuable people in the room. These people need to be taught to give others a chance to speak and have limits set for the amount of time they are permitted to speak.

Active Listening. It is important to identify what is not being said. Watching people's body language, listening to tone, and understanding why they say what they do is many times more important than what they say. The words people use comprise just 7% of communication. A good leader is actively listening during the meeting. This helps ensure that when decisions are made and plans are set that everyone is committed.
An executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.