Hardware Retailing

FEB 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2017 10 Independent Thinking W inning at retail is a complex battle, always fought with limited resources. Where we spend our time and money says everything about our priorities and what we believe to be the right strategy for success. We seem to invest a good deal of time and money in a few assets as though they drive the business. But do they? Retailers are obsessed with products. We're finding unique niches, building signature departments to set us apart and turning our stores into destinations. We roam the aisles of spring and fall markets with one goal—to find new or different products. Manufacturers work tirelessly to develop and market products with the latest updates in order to win a little more shelf space. Inventory is an important asset, and we spend a lot of time managing it. We also invest a lot of time and money on our physical assets. We make sure our stores look fresh and are in good repair; we keep our parking lots in good condition; we take care of our fixtures and shelving to keep them looking new. Appearances are vitally important to our customers, and taking care of this significant asset on our balance sheet makes great sense. Do We Have Our Priorities Right? Of course, products are what we sell. Product differentiation is an essential ongoing battle. And, we must have a great store. They both need our investments in time and money. But however hard we try to be unique, our customers can find our products elsewhere. Our competitors —both brick-and-mortar and online—will stock the same products if they become popular. Products are vital, but they alone won't help us win the battle. Our stores are important too, but they can be copied or outdone. A well-done retail environment is just the price of entry. And, of course, what happens to inventory and buildings as soon as we acquire them? They begin to depreciate. But Are We Missing Something Important? In the battle to win at retail, there is only one asset that can truly set us apart, accrue value over time and make winning at retail attainable: the talent and hearts of our people. As owners, we have to take a hard look at our priorities. If developing our people isn't at the top of our priority list, we're sadly missing the boat. The energy and talents of our people are uniquely theirs. Investing in our people expands possibilities and opportunities. The only way your business can grow is through your people. Growth is difficult or impossible without having talent and experience in place to manage it. Developing the personal leadership skills, risk-taking abilities and business management skills of your staff will give you the edge you need to win. However you choose to develop your people, through NRHA educational programs, your wholesaler or on your own, make it your No. 1 priority. Your business will grow with your people. Bill Lee, President and CEO blee@nrha.org " Developing the personal leadership skills, risk-taking abilities and business management skills of your staff will give you the edge you need to win. " Have We Invested in the Right Assets?

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