By Gordon Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding
Winning in retail, just like winning in sports, doesn’t just happen. It comes from a good game plan, the right players and coaches, and riding out the waves of adversity.
Take seven-time World Series champions, the Dodgers. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1957, the Dodgers have been a model of innovation. Consider this vision: their home field, Dodger Stadium, was the first major league ball field built in the suburbs, away from urban population, unheard of at the time. This allows for no restrictions on size, lighting and added ample parking. The stadium was so innovative that it stands as the third-oldest park next to Chicago’s Wrigley Field Fenway Park in Boston.
Consistency has also been key to their success. In their first 38 years in Los Angeles the Dodgers were led by only two managers and have only had 32 skippers in their entire history — about half as many as the Cubs and Reds. They traditionally stocked their line up with home-grown players and once had the same four players in their infield for nine consecutive seasons.
Occasionally organizations need to bring in new talent from the outside. Chances are good that without Kirk Gibson in 1988 and Mookie Betts this year, there would be no World Series wins.
Creating a winning team for your business requires the same successful practices.
Remain humble and hungry. Remember where you came from and honor the people that got you where you are today: your fans, your players and your founders.
Create a long-range vision for your team and stay close to it. Choose your leaders wisely and create an environment where they can be successful. Keep in mind, just because business (or performance) goes bad, it doesn’t mean that your leaders got stupid overnight. Allow them reasonable time and assets to rebuild.
Hire people with winning spirits, then coach and train them for success. Ballplayers show up to the stadium hours before each game to get the coaching they need to win. Be sure you provide coaching to your sales and operations team every day.
Despite your best efforts, there will be talent gaps in your lineup. Fearlessly seek players to fill those gaps and pay them for their winning talents. In retail, if you don’t have a $1 million writer on your sales staff, it means she is working for somebody else.
In a normal season, winning a World Series means traveling and working with 35 other people for 200 days in a row. Disruptive and negative people destroy teamwork and prevent winning. As you fearlessly hire winners, you also must fearlessly fire troublemakers, no matter the short-term inconvenience.
The Dodgers have been around for 130 years and failed to win a pennant or a World Series in 110 of those seasons. Yet statistically the Dodgers have the most “raving” fans, who often lead in attendance even in sub-par performance years. Dodger Stadium draws greater attendance year in and year out because the organization offers a good product, a fun time, and convenient access to a clean, comfortable building.
Our retail game doesn’t end this month, this quarter or this year. The goal is to go on forever. Work for excellence with your people, places, promotions, products, procedures, practices, payroll and plans, and you’ll soon have your own showroom full of raving fans.
Gordon Hecht is Senior Regional Manager/Strategic Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.