Hardware Retailing

JUN 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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June 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 51 Today, one of those realities is online competition. Customers are more apt to price shop, which has altered the way Buchkowski and Dauwalder-Luna think about their stores' prices. Before, they had always been fairly confident in their pricing strategy. Now, shoppers increasingly scrutinize their prices. Another big change comes from an expanded store count, which has necessitated a shift in management styles. While past generations have taken a more hands-on approach, Buchkowski and Dauwalder-Luna are learning to step back and let their store managers take more control. In fact, their overall approach to their staff is more open than it was with their parents or grandparents. "We are a lot more open to sharing information with our employees than our dad may have been," says Dauwalder-Luna. "We want everyone to know what's going on in the company." Employees who understand how and why the business operates the way it does are more likely to support changes and contribute to growth. "It's not effective to just tell your employees, 'This is how we're going to do it because I said so.' It's better to communicate why you're doing what you're doing," says Buchkowski. Open communication from the top down promotes ownership and collaboration among rank-and-file employees, a way of management that is perhaps more common in business today than it was in previous generations. Keep Listening Don Dauwalder has retired, but like many small business owners, it's been difficult for him to step away completely. He still has plenty of ideas for the business. He still shows up at one of the stores eager to put that plan into action. Sometimes those plans line up with what his daughters want for the business; sometimes they need convincing. Usually it takes some time to talk it through, a delay that can be frustrating to someone eager to move forward. For some families, that could be a recipe for tension, making the transition of leadership more difficult. Fortunately, for the Dauwalders, there's a good relationship between father and daughters. They want their dad to enjoy his retirement, but also give him opportunities to contribute to the business when he wants to. The key to making it work is mutual respect on all sides. "It's important for the younger generation to appreciate the knowledge the older generation has, to find their strengths and limits, and then find a good balance," says Dauwalder-Luna. "It takes patience on both sides. It's important that we both understand that we're like-minded and understand what's happening. We treat each other with respect." A careful approach to change is a philosophy that has benefited the sisters beyond family relationships. Some of the stores they've purchased have been from retailers retiring. Instead of immediately dropping their own ideas into a well-established business, they tap into the retiring owner's wealth of knowledge. Why have they run the business the way they have? What has worked in the past, what hasn't, and why? Before they can be effective in changing what has been done before, say the sisters, it's important they understand and appreciate the way things were done. There's much to learn from the previous generation and their ideas can help shape the business going forward. Dauwalder-Luna (right) and Buchkowski have continued to adapt to their customers' needs while remaining faithful to the business's core values. " It's important for the younger generation to appreciate the knowledge the older generation has, to find their strengths and limits, and then find a good balance. " —Tricia Dauwalder-Luna, Paul's Ace Hardware

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