Communication isn’t just talk: How I took my store to #4 (Part 4)

At its core, leadership is about inspiring people to do their best. Several years ago, I took over a broken bookstore (near the bottom of rankings in a major chain), and in a little over a year, brought it back to 4th in the company out of hundreds of stores, based on metrics including sales, customer satisfaction, profitability, etc.

This is Part 4 of a 5-part series (Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) in which I will share leadership basics which can inspire your team to greatness. Even though I am no longer in the bookselling business, these principles are transferable to any leadership situation.

Photo courtesy of Tatiana12 (Creative Commons)

If everyone is not on the same wavelength, then any plan you develop is doomed. You must ensure that everyone on your team understands your culture, your core values, and what winning looks like.

In my store, we talked about how to serve our guests at every opportunity, and shared stats and stories at every shift meeting so that each team member knew where we stood, and what was expected of them. And we opened the store each day with the words, “It’s showtime!”

Share the Good and the Bad
We shared the positive customer satisfaction reports as well as the negative ones. If we received an unsatisfactory report, we would discuss remedies at a shift meeting to avoid that situation in the future.

Communicate Early and Often
When interviewing potential team members, we talked about the guest culture and the importance of that mindset. As a team member came on board in training, the concepts had already been introduced and were reinforced.

One of our team members was an artist, so he created signs with Disney characters and phrases that were posted near the door to the back office and the back storage room to remind the team of our principles. If someone had a less than guest-like interaction, the leader on duty would suggest they “go backstage” to regroup, and would cover for them, if necessary.

By sharing sales and customer satisfaction numbers with the team, they became invested in keeping those numbers strong. We celebrated as our ranking increased through the company. The credit was also shared with the entire team.

Know What Is Important
New releases were pointed out and team members were challenged to stay abreast of where titles were displayed and shelved. How much better was it when we could just walk a guest to the front table and hand them the book, rather than take the time to look it up and head to the section? And we frequently tag-teamed – if you overheard a request and you knew where it was, you just took the guest there and let the other team member help someone else.

We also created a list of the strengths and interests of each team member, so if a guest was asking about science fiction, but that wasn’t what you read, you could call on your co-worker who was an avid sci fi fan for advice.

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

Lead by Example Every Day
Leadership and a winning culture do not thrive by being presented once and then put aside. Culture must be modeled by everyone every day, especially you as a leader. It must be discussed constantly. Each encounter should be an opportunity to reinforce those ideas and concepts.

If a team member slipped and referred to a customer, they were gently reminded to say guest. The terminology infiltrated every part of what we did. We even incorporated the word guest into our closing announcements!

When have you succeeded because your communication was so strong?

Read the conclusion, Part 5, “It’s Showtime.”  Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Communication isn’t just talk: How I took my store to #4 (Part 4)

  1. Pingback: It’s Showtime: How I took my store to #4 (Part 5) « My Private Universe

  2. Pingback: What winning culture looks like: How I took my store to #4 (Part 3) « My Private Universe

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