Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rescue or Strengthen?

In my “Retail Profitability Tactics” projects, I work with communities of merchants together. In that way, the participants can learn from each other as well as from me how to create and maintain for shoppers a destination projecting themed policies, practices, and experiences.
     Because my approach requires me to become thoroughly familiar with the neighborhood, the first step in each project is a SWOT needs assessment in which I consult the people who know the news. Small Business Development Centers. Business Improvement Districts. Chambers of Commerce.
     During my years of doing this, I’ve found that those wanting to help out retailers tend toward being Rescuers or Strengtheners.
  • Rescuers are drawn toward communities of merchants they see as in danger of failing. The interventions often consist of saving the retailers from themselves. This might mean teaching fundamental business practices, such as bookkeeping and inventory management. In contrast, Strengtheners train and consult with communities of merchants who have mastered business fundamentals and want to move to the next levels of profitability. 
  • In working with communities, Rescuers want to expend resources on the merchants who are most in need of help. It’s what I think of as a social services approach, concerned about equal opportunities and a safety net. On the other hand, Strengtheners take what I think of as a business development approach. They want to expend resources on those merchants most likely to benefit from the help. Strengtheners triage: There are merchants who are likely to fail no matter what consulting occurs at this point. Other merchants are likely to thrive without additional consulting at this point. Neither of those two groups are targets for the Strengthener. 
  • Rescuers perceive a need for continuing support of the retailer. They take on consulting assignments in which they’ll be easily available to intervene to catch a fall or to coach a flight for the foreseeable future. In contrast, Strengtheners aim for interventions to build retailers’ self-sufficiency. Strengtheners aren’t highly concerned with prolonged availability to the client. If a retail business finds itself using the same external consultant repeatedly to train staff, the Strengthener’s likely to propose that the external consultant teach a few of the business’s staff to do the training themselves. 
     When choosing a retail consultant, decide whether you’re wanting a Rescuer or a Strengthener. I find I do best as a Strengthener. But I know there’s a place for each approach.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Take a Swat at SWOT 
Climb Out of Mistaken Assumptions

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