By Greg Sands
CEO, Mudlick Mail
I spend nearly every day talking to shop owners. While some seek my advice, others I encounter as I search for locations to open new shops. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, locations and individual situations, all of them inevitably ask me the same question: “What is the magic bullet that will take my business to the next level?”
It’s a fair question, but it misses the point. Focusing on one secret ingredient instead of the entire recipe won’t lead to success. If I baked a cake and you asked me what was in it and the only thing I told you was sugar, you couldn’t replicate the cake. Yet, that’s the approach many shop owners take when building their businesses. They think that simply launching an advertising campaign or sponsoring a local baseball team will drive sales. While advertising and community outreach are important, addressing those issues in isolation won’t result in higher profits.
Instead, develop a plan or “recipe” that includes a wide range of factors — from customer service to staffing. Keep in mind that creating this list will take time, but try to narrow it down to the items that you feel are most important to building a strong business. Here are the seven factors that I consider essential to creating a successful shop.
1. Core Values
The core values I establish for my shop guide everything I do. For example, because appearance counts for so much in the retail business, I set strict standards about how clean my restrooms, waiting area and other public spaces should be. These standards are followed in all of my stores, so customers know what to expect, whether they’re visiting one of my shops in Houston or Atlanta. If you’re environmentally oriented, then your core values might address how you dispose of used oil or whether you recycle old equipment.