Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

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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May 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 183 For example, while Schaefer often promotes from within her company, several months ago when she was looking for a new director of operations, she found someone working for a company that ran fitness facilities. "If I were just looking for a person who ran a hardware store, I would have gotten the same type of person everyone else had," she says. "But I wanted someone from a niche market who would give us a completely different perspective." Be Open to Criticism Everyone likes a compliment, but a critical assessment of what might be going wrong is what will make you better. That's something leaders especially need to understand, says Schaefer, so she's been intentional about seeking outside perspectives to her business. She is part of a group of seven other Ace retailers in various parts of the country who have committed to helping each other improve their businesses. They've each spent many days traveling to each other's stores, taking a hard look at the operations from top to bottom and offering their honest evaluations. There's enough trust in the close-knit group that they're not afraid to be brutally honest. "The point of the exercise is not to tell each other how great we are, but to tell each other our faults," she says. "And it's painful. The first time they came to my store for a critique, I went home and cried!" But the next day, she got to work. She wanted to correct the issues the group had found as soon as possible. To be successful in business, it's important to keep moving forward and look for ways to improve. "You can talk to anyone in our group and they will tell you they've grown through the experience, because we've all told each other what we need to do better," she says. It's a tactic any retailer can use, even if you don't have the resources to fly across the country to visit another business. Look for other small business owners in the community who are willing to honestly critique your operation and let you return the favor. Sometimes even a customer or family member can offer valuable insights. Some larger retailers run by a board of directors will reserve a spot for someone outside the company to offer a fresh perspective on the inner workings of the business. It's easy for any retailer to grow blind to problems after being in the store day after day. Letting in an outsider to uncover those issues will make sure you're not leading your business in the wrong direction. Each store in the A Few Cool Hardware Stores family is anchored in an urban neighborhood. Continued from Page 180 Leadership Resources From NRHA Want to connect with others in the industry and develop your own leadership skills? NRHA has a way to help. To learn more about any of these programs, visit nrha.org or contact Tom Marcum at tmarcum@nrha.org. • Foundations of Leadership Program Students in this 16-week online course will learn key concepts of leadership and personal development. • Retail Management Certification Program This six-month, college-level course is focused on teaching business concepts to the next generation of owners and managers. • Roundtables These events allow retailers a venue for discussion around an important theme, such as human resources, finances or marketing and merchandising.

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