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In this episode of Real Retail TV, I’m going to share with you the management concept that changed my life.
What I’m talking about here is the idea of a non-negotiable standard. Before I heard those words, I never could get my people to always do what I wanted them to do. My management strategy was to ask someone to do something, and hope that they did it. And then when I heard those words, when I learned this concept, it was like the clouds opened up, and I recognized that all I needed was the words. All I needed to do was hear those words– non-negotiable standards– and everything changed for me.
So let’s talk about what a non-negotiable standard is, and how is it defined. A non-negotiable standard is a standard that everyone in your business, including you, I might add, adheres to in exchange for their employment, meaning this is how we do it, and if you don’t choose to do it this way, you won’t have a job.
For 19 years, I had a seasonal store in Mackinaw City, and I kept employees for years and years and years. They always came back because we were the coolest place in town to work. And I retrained them every single season, and I’d always come back to the non-negotiable standards. And I’d say look, McDonald’s is right next door, and McDonald’s pays $3 an hour more than you make here at the Mackinaw Kite Company. But if you don’t adhere to our non-negotiable standards, you can walk right next door and get a job, because you won’t have one here.
Of course, I said it nicely. Of course, I made a joke about it. But they knew that I was serious.
So let’s talk about how to apply this concept in your business right away. So first of all, don’t come up with a list of 100 things that you should make into non-negotiable standards. Come up with a couple, maybe three that you are serious about. Think about opportunities that you have or things that are driving you crazy.
So here are a couple of examples of non-negotiable standards. You will attempt to add on to every sale. You will ask every customer if they are members of our loyalty program. You will never say, may I help you. You will always initial the open and closing checklist. You will be on time. So you just pick out a couple things that you know if they happened every single time with every single employee, your business– and therefore, your life– would be better. So start with a list of three. Get serious about making sure those standards are executed every single time, and watch your business change.
Let me tell you a quick story. For years, I spoke at a nursery and landscape association, at their big national educational event. And I spoke for many years in a row. And one year, I was in the airport, and a guy comes up to me and he says, Bob, I was in your program last year about standards, and I have a big operation. Turns out he had a very, very big operation. They had a growing division, they had a retail division, and they had a wholesale division. He said we went back and we made the managers of every one of our divisions pick three non-negotiable standards, and then make a commitment to making sure those standards were adhered to all the time. He said, I could not believe the positive impact that that single exercise had on our business.
So here’s your action item, should you choose to accept it. Sit down by yourself, maybe with some team members, and ask yourselves, what would make a difference, what behavior would change things, what’s driving you crazy, what’s driving your team crazy, what three things can be changed that will make this business a lot better. Make those non-negotiable standards, make a commitment to driving them down, and watch how your business is going to change.
If you want to be a better manager if you want to be a better leader, if you want to know more about standards, go into the staff development module of your retail mastery system, because that module is filled with nuts and bolts, information on how you get your team really, really running on rails. If you don’t have the retail mastery system, I’d encourage you to consider investing in it. It might be a game changer for you.
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So as always, I appreciate your likes, your comments, your questions. And I’m Bob Negen. This is Real Retail TV. And I’ll see you next time.