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Are you a professional retailer, or just a storekeeper? Professional retailers show certain characteristics that distinguish them from all the rest.  Following are 8 areas where "pros" differ from "amateurs".

1. Have you given your business a special identity? Professional retailers know what makes their specialty store special and emphasize this in every aspect of the business that affects the public image.

2. Are you spending too much time sharpening your strongest skills while neglecting your weaknesses that really need to be improved? Make a list of 5 or 6 of the most important functions necessary for the growth and profitability of your business and then rate yourself on a scale of zero to 100% on each. Are you spending the time you really should to improve the lower rated functions?

3. How do you use your business time? Consistently handling top priority work first and resisting the less useful work that threatens to grab your attention first on any given day may make quite a difference in how effective you are. It is more important to be effective (doing the right things) than efficient (doing things right).

4. Are you motivating and helping your employees to function at their peak? There are two important factors needed to help motivate sales employees to sell -- ego satisfaction and financial reward. Give your employees both, plus the tools, supervision and constructive help they need. The professional spends time "multiplying himself" by bringing out the best in others.

5. Are you a coward about terminating an employee who has no chance to succeed?  This may seem the "humane" thing to do but it is really unfair to both the problem employee and the productive employees. It is also unfair to the business which, as a result, fails to achieve it's full potential.

6. How well do you listen? When you listen carefully, both to words and to hidden inflections and suggestions, you learn a lot from your customers, suppliers, employees, fellow retailers and others. They will give you clues that you can use to buy better, manage better and sell better.

7. Do you know when it is time to seek outside help from your accountant, consultant, sales trainer, or other retailers? No single person has all the answers yet many times retailer's feel it is a sign of weakness to ask for input or guidance from others.

8. Are you holding the line on honesty and ethics? There is no room for erosion of honesty or ethics among professional retailers. 

How do you rate -- as an amateur or pro?

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