During his Hall of Fame career, Michael Jordan missed over 9000 shots, lost nearly 300 games and 26 times was asked to take the game-winning shot, which he missed. In fact, he didn’t even make his high school basketball team. He failed and failed again, yet Jordan will tell you that those failures were the very reasons why he was successful.
As retailers, you’re constantly confronted with failure, it goes with the territory. The most obvious example would come from inventory decisions. From time to time, you might have too much or too little or you might select the wrong style. The vendor might ship late or not at all, the merchandise might not fit correctly or be defective in some other way, or perhaps the price is too high. These issues lead to markdowns. Markdowns stimulate sales and help a store clean up inventory problems. They also reduce margin. Taken in the right quantities and for the right reasons, markdowns are a healthy part of the retail business. It’s only when markdowns are taken excessively that they become problematic. Markdowns represent mini-failures, but if taken properly, as already discussed, contribute to successful operations.
Employee issues most certainly can be a source of failures. How many times have you hired someone you thought would be a good fit for your store but wasn’t. On the surface, this is clearly a minor setback. However, if you learned from the experience and went on to find an even a better employee, the negative experience became a success.
Have you ever signed a bad lease or had a location that didn’t turn out as you expected? More often than not, the next location works out great. Ever run an ad campaign or sale that failed to produce the expected results? If you are paying attention, you will learn things during the failures that will hopefully help prevent future reoccurrences.
The most successful merchants I’ve worked with are the ones who have experienced failures and persevered. These retailers have survived bad leases, closed stores, bankruptcy proceedings, etc. only to resurface as better, stronger merchants. Another common trait among these survivors is that no matter what happens, they always seem to maintain enthusiasm for their business.
As you close out this year and prepare for the next, try shifting your thinking from negative to positive and see how quickly those failures become successes.
Ritchie Sayner is a retail consultant; he can be reached at 816-728-8740.