Ongoing workplace education and professional development should be a vital part of every retail furniture business. The implementation of a new training or professional development goal can, however, be challenging. That’s because for most retailers, finding the time and tools to “fit in” additional work can be a struggle.
It has happened to us all. We go to a conference, listen to a speaker, attend a seminar, or read a book. Inspired, we return to work brimming with inspiration, motivation and creative ideas. The days that follow may look something like this:
- Day one: Share all we have learned with anyone who will listen.
- Day two: Share methodologies regarding how to implement these new strategies in the store.
- Day three: Get sidetracked by the business of doing business. “New” programs get put on the back burner.
- Day four: Resolve to get the programs underway.
- Day five, six seven: Get excited, get sidetracked, brainstorm implementation, put out fires... fizzle, fizzle, fizzle.
How To Keep Initiatives On track
Here are six follow-up strategies to help you avoid having your initiatives fizzle.
- Get Help: Engage a partner or associate to help, get excited about the project and hold you accountable. Create a support system or committee. If you are an owner, ask a manager to act as your support system. If you are a sales team member, enlist other associates and help hold each other accountable. Assembling a team that is committed to the goal will help to ensure that if an emergency arises or you take a day off, there will still be accountability and follow through so the implementation of your project will not fall apart.
-Schedule it: Create goals and structure timeframes around the objective. These goals should be ambitious but attainable. Make it a habit.
- Be patient: let it work. Don’t expect immediate results. It will take time to work out the bugs and get into a new routine. Stick with it and don’t let the next shiny thing distract you from your mission. Also, in exercising patience be sure to keep true to the new system. Don’t dilute it and expect the same results.
- Don't let a setback derail you: Get back on track. There will be times when you will be unable to devote the time and energy to move your initiative forward. If this happens, get over it and get back on track. Think of using the same advice most fitness experts give when people are trying to make lifestyle changes. If you have a bad day, forgive yourself and get back on track tomorrow.
- Know when it is not working: Let’s face it, sometimes new ideas aren’t compatible with a retail organization, the timing isn’t right, or an initiative just doesn’t work. Whether your idea is a change in policy, a system, or a technique used to contact customers, the key here is to be objective. When faced with a choice to go forward with your plan or reevaluate it, don’t just do the easy thing, do the right thing.
- Reward yourself and others: When you reach a milestone or achieve success, celebrate the moment. Acknowledge it, announce it and reward your team for their part in this the effort.
Typically, when retailers set a workplace goal, it falls into one of three categories; a policy, a customer initiative or an idea.
You can set yourself up for success when introducing a new policy by getting buy in. People are more likely to respond positively if they are given enough information to understand why an idea is a good one. When you have the support of staff from the onset, your chances for successful follow through are much greater.
It is critical to keep in touch with current customers regarding the progress of any ongoing projects. You must respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner and stay in touch with past and potential customers.
Use an efficient CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System to ensure referrals and repeat business. Some great CRM’s are available either as standalone programs or are integrated into your furniture software program. Combine this with a low tech approach such as sending postcards to a different group of valued customers once a week.
Ideas and ideals can be difficult to measure. Perhaps you have decided to abandon a supervisory coaching style in favor of one that is more progressive. This type of initiative often takes the form of an internal shift in thought processes or behaviors rather than a procedural change. Journaling and setting specific goals and benchmarks can be a beneficial way to track progress in this area.
Whether it’s implementing a new system or process, keeping in touch with customers or sticking true to your ideals, these strategies will help you achieve the desired results of improving and growing your business.
Rene´Johnston-Gingrich is Vice President of Training Development for the Profitability Consulting Group, specializing in delivering the programs Design Trac: Design Skills for Retail Sales People and Sales Trac III: In Home Selling. Rene’ has owned and operated an interior design firm for 17 years and now works with organizations to ensure they have the best possible team environment.
Rene´ served as a regular columnist for The Lewiston Tribune Business Profile and is an adjunct faculty member of Lewis-Clark State College’s Business Division. Rene' has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Planning and Design and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Read other articles by Rene´Johnston-Gingrich