There’s a Better Way to Operate in This New Economy

By Joe Legato, Bill and Rod’s Appliances & Grills

Ever wonder, even before the health crisis, why it feels like you’re spinning your wheels with your business? Have you ever experienced the pain of unrealistic assumptions and expectations, and the realization that maybe you are not going to reach the goals you set?

Me too. These are real struggles that we all have encountered. Last year I read three books that changed my perspective on operating as an independent retailer and I want to share them with you.

The One Thing, by Gary Keller

We all want more while having to do less. More productivity while working less hours. Experiencing less stress and more satisfaction. In The One Thing, Keller William’s Realty co-founder Gary Keller explains how he found his focus, and teaches us how to focus and find our “one thing.” As retailers we tend to look for the next thing we can add to enhance our margins. Through Keller’s process we can consider what we do well and how we can make it even better. As soon as I finished this book I began reading it again. And after that I read it once more.

Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz

As an owner, have you ever skipped paying yourself in order to cover costs for a week, a month or more? If so, you need to stop what you are doing and read this book immediately. Using examples from his own businesses and others that he has helped over the years, Mike artfully shows how any business can be profitable and allow its owners to pay themselves every week. I put many of the principles into practice at the beginning of this year and I am already seeing results. Turns out I can make money in the appliance business and I guarantee that you can too.

Radical Candor, by Kim Scott

Candor has seemed to have lost its shine in our society. It can be seen as a negative, a code word for being rude. After reading this book I realized that many of my business practices tended to alienate members of my team and actually bred animosity. Author Kim Scott, through practices honed over a lengthy management career, shows us how we can build a compassionate, cohesive and collaborative team. I am now working on creating an environment where you can be right, but you can also be wrong, where we can have our differences, talk them through honestly, and remain respectful of each other’s positions. If you are looking to change the culture of your team and build a positive atmosphere, then start with this book.

Why These Three Books?

Through the combed wisdom of these three books we are able to form a complete picture of an ideal business — one that is focused on what it does well, remains profitable, and has a culture that is honest because it cares. These books show there can be better ways to operate in this new economy, and that you do not have to conform to doing something just because it has always been done a certain way. We are independent retailers for a reason; we wanted to have freedom, we did not want to be held back from expressing our ideals, and we wanted to be able to provide for our families.

The truth is, there are times we fall short. We rob Peter to pay Paul. We omit certain information from team members to “protect” them. We look for the next thing that will “enhance” our profits so we can dig out of financial holes. We have all found ourselves in one or all of these situations at some point. You are not alone.

As the guidance from these books shows, there are ways to make your business better if you are willing to put them into practice. There are ways you can steer your business so it’s focused, profitable and oriented toward honest dialogue. But true change starts with owners and managers being willing to change and believing that change is necessary.

What will your next step be?

Joe Legato is Chief Operating Officer of BrandSource member Bill & Rod’s Appliance & Grills, a retail and service company in Livonia, Mich. Now in its third generation, the family-owned and operated business provides appliances, mattresses, grills, and appliance parts and service to the greater metro Detroit market.