By Gordon Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding
This Sunday, July 4, is the 245th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-six colonists hopped on the 18th-century version of a Zoom call and told King George III of England, “Ye can shinny up a thy flagpole.”
Because of some connection issues, as Al Gore had not yet updated the Internet, most of the signatures were added in August, and the last one in November 1776.
It took a lot of forethought for the declaration’s author, John Hancock, to realize that we needed a summer holiday between Memorial Day and Labor Day to sell more mattresses, which is why he chose July as the month to sign that document.
In our democratic republic, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to tell government leadership to take a hike. Every election day we decide to pat them on the back or show them the door. But back in the 1700s, dissing the King could get you thrown in the dungeon, beheaded, or sentenced to watching endless reruns of Gilligan’s Island. Those signers overcame their fears, risked all, and stepped into the unknown.
For all its warts, bruises and wrinkles, the declaration created the United States and let Crazy Ol’ King George know that on this side of the pond we wanted to do things our way.
This weekend may be the time for your shoppers to “declare their independence from high mattress prices.” It’s also a grand time to reassess your business practices and fears, and to declare your independence from whatever it is that’s holding you back. Consider letting go of these fears and practices:
Fear of the Competition. You know by now that you have no control over what the guy down the street (or in the next town, state or country) does. You can’t control his advertising, inventory or margins. But you can control your knowledge and intel, and can create a marketing plan based on what makes your business remarkable. Start outside your four walls by taking a tour of the competitor’s landscape. See what they are doing great, and ignore what they do lousy. Shape your business to maximize your strengths and abilities.
Don’t let your greatness become the best kept secret! Let the world know.
Fear of Technology. Just like disco music and Zima we thought it wouldn’t last, but it seems that Inter-webby thing is going to stick around. Really sharp people are figuring out new ways to use technology to sell merchandise every day! Mee-maw and pawpaw, who used to write checks for groceries at the Frugal Hoosier, are now texting payments to retailers.
Candidly, it’s hard to keep up. But you only become an old dog when you stop learning new tricks. You can lose your fear of tech by simply going to YouTube and taking a short video class on any digital subject you like. Type in “Facebook advertising,” “Over-the-top TV,” or “chat feature.” [This works on YSN too! Ed.] In five minutes or less you can move from clueless to novice (and beyond).
Fear of Selling Accessories. Your sales team loves accessories! Used for closing a sale they make great gifts. The only problem is that your accessory vendors don’t give them away for free.
In business, when someone gets something for nothing, it means that someone else gets nothing for something. (It’s OK to re-read that sentence.) Bedding accessories like pillows, protectors and linens have a value, and should equal to 5 percent or more of your mattress sales.
Your accessory vendors love to teach the value of those products and how they add to your shoppers’ enjoyment. Once your sales team learns their value and can explain it to a shopper, reward them generously for selling them and penalize them for giving them away. You will be amazed at the difference in your cash flow when you collect $200 and Pass GO on a sale, rather than pay a $75 cost to get one.
Independence from the 24-hour News Cycle. By nature, “news” is bad news. My journalism professor taught us “If it bleeds, it leads.” We used to get all our information from the Camel Caravan of News, a 15-minute news program that aired on the old Zenith from 1776 to 1956.
Now the news never ends! Declare your independence from this addictive programing. It will downright depress you and cause you to lose sleep. Quit the news for a week and you’ll save valuable brain cells. That clearer head will help you maintain peak performance and make decisions more rationally.
Sure, you need information. Check out www.noaa.gov/weather for weather (no ads) and an investment company website for your stock reports. Everything else is probably clutter.
And Last but Certainly Not Least — Fear of Failure. It’s OK to fail! Thomas Edison tested over 10,000 filaments before inventing the light bulb, saving us from having to watch TV by candlelight. And no baseball player has struck out more times than Babe Ruth.
You’ll miss countless opportunities when you suffer paralysis by analysis. You took a chance when you opened your store doors or started your current job. Play the risk/reward game and you’ll win with cash returns or knowledge on how to do it better next time.
Failure is not something to be ashamed of; just don’t continually repeat the same failing behavior. That’s called insanity!
So, celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence this Sunday. Keep the pets inside and shoot off some fireworks, grill a few Impossible Burgers, and jump in the pool, ocean or run through the sprinkler. Remember John Hancock and the other dudes who put their, well, John Hancocks on the bottom line. They risked all, and we won.
Special Note: Greetings and best wishes to those who celebrate Canada as their home and native land and celebrated Canada Day on July 1. The day commemorates the anniversary of the Constitution Act, which consolidated three territories into the single nation of Canada, way back in 1867.
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.