Cultural priorities


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I’m excited about my new audio program “The Ideal Way to Delegate: Four days to becoming a more effective delegator.” It will be available for immediate download this Friday. Watch your email for details later this week.

One my favorite stories is from a time we had a number of initiatives in play at Bose. Everyone was fairly overwhelmed. District manager Dave, who was often overwhelmed even without a lot going on, was struggling to figure out what his priorities should be. He asked his manager what he should focus on. Marshall’s response was memorable: “Dave, focus on everything.”

That still cracks me up. It’s also something many owners, managers, and executives inadvertently tell their staff. We need to do this, we need to do that, and remember to get both that and this done. And oh yeah, while you’re at wait on customers and make sales happen.

Focus on everything? When everything is important, nothing is important. When everything is important the staff usually defaults to the most current priority, which more often than not is operational.

That’s why specialty retailers need to establish what I call cultural priorities. These are the priorities that everyone from the top down knows are always the most important. They never change, no matter what else is going on. They’re ingrained in your culture.

Most companies believe they have cultural priorities, but they are often more theory than reality. The proof of a company’s cultural priorities is in what leaders talk about, and what employees do, on a daily basis. That’s when you know what priorities, if any, are truly embedded in the culture.

Of course customers are the main priority, but I like to drill it down more. If not, the priority could be simply greeting customers when they walk in the door. That’s not enough.

These are what I see as the cultural priorities for the frontline staff of most specialty retailers:

1. Deliver an engaging and memorable experience to every customer.

2. Create sales and incremental visits.

3. Capture contact information from every possible customer.

The first priority is pretty obvious, and is by far the most important. The key word there is “every.”

The second one is not a priority in many stores. In those stores, sales just happen. There’s a big difference between “creating” and “making” a sale. I also believe that the staff has to play a bigger role in getting customers back into the store. That’s why it should be a cultural priority.

The third one is usually not a cultural priority, but is more of an operational activity I believe is extremely important in today’s marketplace. That is, as long as you’re regularly communicating with your customer community. If you don’t get contact information you have zero ability to influence a future visit.

So let me ask, what are your frontline staff’s priorities? There’s a good chance they might answer, “That depends what day it is.” That’s why you want to create and communicate your cultural priorities.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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