Three Things to Think About

By  Mark Lotstein, President, Retail Optimization Group LLC

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Tenure Does Not Necessarily Equal a Good Employee

On a regular basis, people brag to me about how long a manager or clerk has worked for them. They tell me with a big smile because to them it means they are a great person to work for and that their employee is honest, hardworking and does what is best for the business. While this is probably true 80% of the time, the other 20% of the time the employee actually is stealing, lazy and getting away with murder. How is this possible, you ask? The answer is that once the owner found a good comfort level with the employee; they stopped checking up on the person and assumed everything was OK.

In the past few years I have heard many horror stories, including:

  • A clerk who worked in a two-store operation for seven years, and was trusted and loved by the owner and store managers, developed a drug habit. Over a year she stole more than $50,000 in cash and merchandise and was caught when her habit got so bad that she tried to steal $1,000 in a day.
  • A store manager who worked at a site for 12 years and who the owner said “was like family” started stealing cigarettes, cash and finally Western Union money orders. When he was caught, the owner identified nearly $20,000 in theft.

Stop Complaining and Do Something About It

I have been working in the industry for nearly two decades, and I love it. But over the past couple of years, it seems that I have been hearing much more complaining about the government, the industry, business and customers. I work with business owners who have complaints but have chosen to do something about it. They identify the problem, they figure out what and how it can be fixed (not everything can be, but most things can), and then they fix it through their own efforts, or by bringing in an outside resource such as my company or by banding together with other owners or state associations to get their voices heard and to make a difference.

In the end it is up to you to stop complaining and to do something about it, because let’s be honest—no one really wants to hear you or me complaining!

Learn to Delegate

This is an issue that I think most smallbusiness owners face (myself included). We tend to be very control-oriented, we want things done a specific way, and we need it done now. The issue with this is twofold: To grow and make a business prosper to its fullest, it can’t be only you. And life is too short not to find some time to enjoy it with family and friends. Here are some quick questions and thoughts:

  1. How many hours a week do you work? If it is more than 60, you probably are not able to enjoy spending time with your family and friends and are more likely to burn out.
  2. How many hats do you wear at work? Write them down, and next to each function rate yourself capability-wise from one to 10 (best to worst). Now take a look at the list. How many items are below an eight? Do you really want anything done at less than 80%? Next, look at the items that are less than eight, and think about who works for you or someone you know who could do them better.
  3. Lastly, do you take out the garbage, change the outside fuel-price sign and other similar tasks? If so, is this really the best way to spend your time? You need to live, and you need to delegate some things to others.  

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