The businesses are 2 miles apart and owned by guys in their 50s. Both sell flooring. That’s about where the similarities end.
Store A, on a major thoroughfare, has been in business 30 years. It flourished for much of that time. Sales fell away during the recession. Turns out that carpet and hardwood flooring were not high on homeowners’ list of priorities in this gritty post-industrial town. Now all the employees have been laid off and the business is down to the two brothers who started it. They have a nice showroom, but at 10 a.m., they’re the only ones there.
Store B, located on a side street, went into business a year or two before the recession started. It’s run by a guy and his daughter. The place is electric. It hums. Nobody is sitting around doing crosswords.
Store A now does less than a million out of the single location. The two brothers who own it have no plans to change anything. They wait for life to happen, for the economy to suddenly roar back to life and lift their sales.
Meanwhile, things change whether you want them to or not. They change whether you’re aware that they’re changing or not. What happens when there isn’t enough money to pay both owners? Do they flip a coin to see who gets the check that week?
The Big Draw
The owners of Store B understand that it’s all about the customer and getting people inside the store. So they do whatever they need to do to get people there. They’re aggressive. They sell carpet remnants for $39. They appeal to neighborhood people with a free Help Yourself remnant bin. Naturally, you have to come into the store to take your free remnant.
The building features clever signs. For instance, there are a lot of colleges in the area, so the owners set out to get the attention of students looking to put a rug down on their dorm floor. When you walk in to Store B’s showroom, everyone’s wearing an identical black shirt with the company name on it. When you walk in, you don’t get pounced on by salespeople.
Better to Have Hope
There’s hope, and then there’s wishful thinking. Hope has a foundation. It rests on empirical evidence, proven data. Hope implies action. You do something and hope it achieves the desired result.
Wishful thinking is just that.
The owners of Store A aren’t unique. A lot of retail businesses in the area — even stores that cater to what people need, such as auto parts — see themselves as being in survival mode. The difference, of course, is attitude. In sales, or in business generally, attitude is everything.
—Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.