Retail Success: How To Keep Your Store From Being Your Personal Ball And Chain
By Bob Phibbs
In 2001, Tim & Cynthia Holliday took a gamble: They purchased Children's World, a struggling children’s uniform, clothing, and toy store in Sarasota, Florida. Now 50-years-old, I met up with them just after they returned from a one-month vacation. Holliday offers insights on how change, retail sales training, and attention to detail is driving his business but not overwhelming their lives.
BP: How'd you go from managing a bank branch to buying a store?
Holliday: I worked my way up at a bank here in Florida and planned to retire with that company, complete with gold watch. After the company was sold and my future shattered, I realized banking wasn't for me. I liked being on my feet and interacting with people and I wanted to do something with my wife Cynthia. Through a mutual acquaintance we found this business; but things were very different back then.
BP: How was it in the beginning?
Holliday: It was hard. Cynthia spent the first year working the store - pregnant. I was working another job and doing the books at night. We had a plan for how we wanted the business to run and we figured it out along the way.
BP: What kinds of challenges have you had with employees?
Holliday: Most people coming in for a paycheck are never going to have the same motivation or desire behind it as you do. So we’re always trying to keep everybody on the team motivated and moving forward so the customer experience is the way we want it to be. That's a never-ending battle.
BP: I know the two of you were gone for the whole month of June, but many independent retailers say they can’t ever leave their store. What’s yours and Cynthia’s secret?
Holliday: The people who say that have no system, no trust in their employees. If you don't have the people to make that work then you've got to find different people and move on. If you can't leave because you don't trust them to do the job right, that also means that you probably don't trust them to do the job right with a customer on the floor either.
And if that's the case, why do you have any employees? You are married to your ball-and-chain business at that point. I don't see how that could possibly be fun either.
Is everybody going to do everything exactly the way you would do it every single time? Of course not! But you have to find ways to coach people and get them onboard. Certainly, your SalesRX online retail sales training system does that. We're trying to pass along our belief system and our training so people will do what we would do even when we’re not there to watch them.
BP: You mentioned SalesRX.com. Thank you. What was your experience like the first year?
Holliday: Like anything, it was a new system and we went through and trained everybody on it. Things were going pretty well and sales were increasing nicely.
BP: You had SalesRX, which some refer to as Bob-in-a-box, but you had me come out this year. Why the visit?
Holliday: What we were looking for, and I think what we got out of your visit, was much more of, OK, now let's take Bob out of the box and ramp this up to the next level. You gave us in-person one-on-one coaching. For us, the in-person visit was an added value because with the SalesRX training under our belts, we were ready and able to go on to that higher level.
BP: What kind of success have you had since using SalesRX over the past many years?
Holliday: Our sales have been up every year since we have used the system, and, since we had you in this year, the specific areas that we were looking to increase are up over 25% and 50%, which are impressive results, and we attribute that to the Sales RX system, and what you helped build on in-person.
BP: That’s a testament to you and Cynthia because you are driving the employee training process and meeting with results – you’re doing the work! What would you say to someone who is sitting on the fence about investing in SalesRX for their retail crew?
Holliday: I think a lot of that goes back to what we were talking about before - change. When you're running a business, you need to be able to be willing and able to change. And I think a lot of people are just freaked out about that.
It's like they may go to your website and look at it and go, "Wow! That's really interesting." But then the idea of, "Oh my God. How am I going to do that? I would have to change. So instead, I'm going to sit on my hands and keep doing what I'm doing.”
But if you're going to sit there and think that you're going to have your toy store, or retail, or clothing store, and you’re going to sell the same merchandise the same way and hope that your sales are going to be the same or better than they were before – especially with online growing every day, you're dreaming!
Just like you're always looking, hopefully, for the new and better product, you need to be looking for the new and better process. And a great way to do that is to take technology and use it on your side and use your SalesRX retail sales training system.
That way you can get your employees- assuming you have the right ones, can trust them to do stuff, can teach, mentor and reward what they're doing - to grow your sales.
And then maybe you can even go on vacation one day.
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