This is a “do as I say, don’t do as I do” column. I was at the Summit distributors buying show last weekend and met a very nice woman who runs a pretty successful store, and has a wholesale bakery business.
She was telling me about the competition moving near her, voicing her concern about all the consolidation in the industry and just talking shop in general. She said business was OK but she has a huge opportunity with her wholesale business. Not being one to mind his own business, when I enquired about the wholesale business and why she wasn’t going “full steam” ahead with that she explained all the things going on in the retail store. Believe me, I get it. Been there, done that, in fact, still doing that.
So one of the things that was taking up so much of her time is a big event they do at the store every year. The event is huge and very important. However, when she told me this was the 7th year they have done the event, I stopped her from talking. It was kind of funny. I looked at her, she looked at me and said, “you’re right.” I hadn’t even said anything yet. Are you guessing where this is going?
Finally, I asked, why can’t somebody else put the event together? It’s not as if you haven’t done it before. I don’t care if you hire an event planner to take care of the details, get somebody else to do the grunt work so you can build your business.
Doesn’t this just hit home? How many hours do we spend doing the day-to-day, minute-by-minute “firechiefing” instead of the real job, which is to grow the business? I don’t care how big or small your organization is, don’t get lost in the minutia of putting out fires all day long.
In this particular instance, it seems to me the opportunity to do what she was working on would probably end up being a bigger business than her retail store. For me, the best part is to see the light go off in her head, to see the sudden energized look on her face and to hear the, ‘I am calling them first thing Monday morning.”
I am so fortunate to get to know folks in all kinds and sizes of businesses. To be honest, I have met some owners who I just can’t figure out how they are still in business. They are easy to spot. You know some of them. They all have one word in common that would describe them, and that word is, negative. Luckily for me, I meet and am friends with way more folks that I learn things from every time I am with them.
I have mentioned him before, but this guy is just amazing. His mind never stops thinking of new ways to grow his business. Russ is one of those guys that attends every seminar he can, sucks up knowledge like a sponge and is the most humble guy in the world. Oh by the way, he runs a very successful business.
So my kid, Doug, is a musician. He wrote and recorded a great song, “I’d rather be with dogs than be with you.” He contacted a couple of shelters we work with and put the word out on Facebook to send in pictures of your dog to be in the video that goes with the song. Check it out at www.youtube/dougratner/dogs.
I sent the link to the video to a bunch of my friends, I know I am Doug’s dad, but it’s a great video. I knew this would happen. I get an email back from Russ telling me what a brilliant song/video and naturally, Doug must have been adopted. Surely he didn’t come from my genes. Anyway, in the “of course he would think of this,” he says, “can I have Doug’s permission to send the song to my customers. They will love it.”
I read that and just shook my head. Isn’t that just Russ, completely focused on what would make his customers happy. I wish I could bottle his enthusiasm, smarts, and creativity and sprinkle it on some of the retailers I know.