Yesterday I promised more on my wonderful, amazing, I’m-so-thankful-for-them staff. So, here we go; get ready to get gushed.
Over thirty-four years, I have definitely had people come and go, but, even after they’ve left, my staff members and I stay close. I get to hold their first babies and attend their parents’ funerals.
This is one of the things I love about being a boss and owning a retail store: you share in life’s ebbs and flows. For one season in their lives, my employees and I walk together at The Menagerie, and then, later, it might be time for them to move on to another season.
While they’re with me, I try to teach them these principles:
Don’t get hung up on anything one thing for too long. Make a mistake? No problem; just move on. Say to yourself: NEXT. Is a customer less-than-kind to you in any one moment? No problem; just say NEXT and move on. Did a vendor promise you something only to fail to deliver? Don’t let it derail your day; remember: NEXT.
We always try to respond to and handle any issues that come up, of course. The “NEXT” principle isn’t a “bury your head in the sand” tenet. It’s simply a way to extend yourself grace. If you’ve done the best you can, and you can’t do any more, then let yourself move to the NEXT thing.
Life is way too short not to have fun. We spend fifty, sixty, seventy hours a week together; we want to enjoy one another. So I make sure that I hand-pick people who, not only will be the best at helping my customers, but will also be a good fit with the whole team. We’re a tight-knit group with a very small working space (have you seen our back room?) – we need to be able to get along. Picking well in the first place and laughing a lot in the second place help keep our ship on an even keel.
“How can I help someone today?” That’s what we try to focus on. We work on other things as well, of course – excellent product knowledge; an awareness of our customers’ lifestyles (we read lots of magazines!); our own personal growth (you have to have a life outside of work). But, when it comes down to it, I always, always, always tell my staff that the customer comes first. We put ourselves last and do our level best to serve each person who walks through our door, no matter what kind of day we’re having or what amount of work we have piled up on our desk in the back.
My hope is that we succeed in making each customer feel like he or she is the only customer, the most important person in the world. And, that we have fun along the way!
See you tomorrow for more about what it’s like to own and operate a retail store.