"How are you doing?" We hear this question multiple times daily and likely respond with a "Fine, how are you?" This interaction happens so often that we don't even wait to hear the response. It has become simply the polite thing to say.
Now that may work fine in your personal life, where politeness is your end goal, but what if we changed the setting? What if I entered your business tomorrow and asked "How is your business doing?" The response would likely be different. You might begin to reveal to me how your sales are up or down, or how your margins have increased over the last few months. You might even add details about the number of employees you have added or let go. You would respond based on your understanding of your current status.
Please don't take this wrong, but I often find that the owner and top level managers are not the best people to evaluate the organizations current status. They are often viewing from a cluttered perspective. They are so busy actively doing their own jobs that they can't see how the overall organization is functioning. Mid-level managers might give you a very different perspective on the health of your establishment. Still, they are viewing things from the inside out.
The perspective that is often lacking is that of our customers and potential customers. After all, it is their perception of our store that really matters. Do they find us responsive and knowledgeable? Are they satisfied with our selection? How do our prices compare? Better yet, how do they feel we compare with our competition? What would they say us our reputation within our community?
I know many good managers that "shop" their competition on a regular basis. This is a good practice, but it still only tells half of the story. We also need someone to shop us. This us where the concept of secret shopping comes in. This can be accomplished by hiring a company who specializes in the practice or simply using your non business relationships to provide you feedback by posing as customers and shopping your store.
In this issue, you will find some interesting feedback on specialty flooring stores. Not our opinion, but feedback we received from shoppers we hired to shop "Big Box" stores and specialty flooring stores in their same demographic area. I am confident you will be surprised and possibly even shocked by our findings. You will find that in many of the areas where we (Specialty Flooring Retailers) felt we had a big advantage over these major competitors, the advantage is marginal or non existent.
Why would we make this investment? Because our purpose statement says, "We exist to ensure the success and profitability of the specialty flooring dealer and to represent your common interest." We realize that businesses rarely make an effort to improve in areas they have already determined are a strength. It is our hope that our findings encourage you to reevaluate your own strengths and weaknesses and get your business prepared for success.
So let me ask you a question. As it relates to your business, "How are you doing?"