A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
New Year, New Attitude
inevitable, and improving your employees' attitude can be done.
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (February 20, 2012)
You may have heard Rich talk
about three signs that hang in our office conference room:
When times are bad things
When times are good things
10 percent of your business
changes every year.
Change is good – and important
to your business – no matter how it finds you. It certainly found
After 18 years in the same
offices in St. Charles, Illinois, we decided we needed a change.
Okay, that isn’t entirely true. Our idea of change was buying new
furniture and rearranging the joint; our landlord’s definition
involved a new lease that was absolutely un-signable. Our only
option was to move, and fast. We had to be out in less than 60 days.
Our old office was in a 100 year
old, very cool (and haunted!) office building. We were surrounded by
small business service providers; nice people but definitely
non-creative types. The best time was when the Special Olympics team
down the hall brought kids in to get ready for some event;
otherwise, it was a pretty quiet place. This daily lack of
stimulation was affecting our attitudes; we were in a rut and we
knew it, so if we had to move, it wasn’t going to be to a similar
We wanted to stay in St. Charles
but we wanted to be where all the action is, so that meant being
downtown. (A little St. Charles trivia: in 2011 it was named the
best city in America to live in by Family Circle magazine. We
stumbled upon it when we stuck a pin in a map right between the two
cities where we live. Voila! St. Charles.) We looked at plenty of
spaces that we loved but couldn’t afford, took a deep breath, and
kept on looking. And then, almost by accident, we found the perfect
space, in a great location, with a private entrance and floor to
ceiling windows. Or maybe it found us; the space had been empty for
over a year. Before the ink was dry on our new, tenant-friendly
lease, two other companies tried to grab it, too.
We decided that we were going to
throw away everything in our storage room. We hadn’t looked at most
of it in years anyway. In the office, we tossed old files,video
tapes – junk we didn’t need. And we sold our big cherry office
suites in favor of sleek new furniture.
One of the joys of owning or
running your own business is that you can make positive changes
whenever you want. That's the easy part; the hard part is deciding
to do it. The other hard part is convincing your staff that
sometimes in order to grow your business change is necessary.
In our travels we've visited
well run stores, and we've visited stores where things have gotten a
little out of hand. We'll never forget the retailer who had three
absolutely rotten associates on her team, but was afraid to confront
them about their bad behavior. Other associates complained,
customers complained, and she had witnessed several nasty incidents
herself. But she was afraid to let them go for a number of reasons,
one of which was, "What would I do without them?"
This retailer needed positive
change and she needed it fast. We said, "You cannot afford to be
afraid of the people who work for you. They work for you." We needed
to convince her of the damage these employees were doing to her
business, because that was exactly what was happening.
Several years ago we had the
opportunity to conduct an in-store study. We interviewed each of the
store's associates and made a list of those we felt had a positive
attitude about their jobs, and a list of associates we felt were on
the negative side. Next, we chose three associates with positive
attitudes, and two who were just the opposite. We asked the store
owner to assign these five associates to work together in the same
department. Three weeks later we returned and interviewed the five
associates again to see if their differing attitudes would affect
one another. In this phase of the experiment we were happy to find
that the positives won – the two negative associates had
substantially improved their attitudes. But the experiment wasn’t
Next we reversed the chemistry
and placed three negative attitudes with two positive attitudes in
the same department. At the end of this three-week study, the
associates who started out with a positive attitude had crossed over
to the dark side. But our study wasn’t finished yet.
In the third phase, the store
owner assigned three positive sales associates to work with three
negative sales associates. All things being equal, we waited to see
what would happen. After three weeks we had six associates with much
less than positive attitudes, proving that people with negative
attitudes are likely to have a more powerful effect on others as
those who think positively.
Yet, even in stores where
positive attitudes prevail, sometimes things just don't feel all
that positive. You may have noticed how "up" your associates are on
days when the sales floor is packed. On busy Saturdays, associates
are engaged, customers are happy, and you're selling lots of stuff.
But on a slow Tuesday afternoon, you're likely to find that everyone
is just a little less enthusiastic.
What's the difference? Actions
drive attitudes. If you find your associates dragging their feet or
feeling lethargic on slow days, then assign tasks and
responsibilities that will keep them busy when they're not helping
customers. You'll find that their attitudes will improve. You can't
change a person's attitude, but you can control their actions, and
action will fire up attitudes.
You want to talk change? If you
own or manage the store, the attitude of your company and all who
work there, falls directly in your lap. Your store has your
personality. So be the daily example, the positive attitude everyone
can count on. When you walk onto your sales floor, shine. New year,
new attitude! Make some changes. Get organized; kick the negatives
to the curb, and good things will happen in 2012!
About Rich KIZER & Georganne BENDER
Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender
are professional speakers, authors and consultants whose client list
reads like a "Who's Who" in business. Companies internationally
depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing
retail market place.
KIZER & BENDER made Meetings
& Conventions magazine's list of "Meeting Planners Favorite
Keynote Speakers"; they've also been named "Two of Retailing's Most
Influential People." And with good reason: Rich and Georganne are
experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and
promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as
consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most
elusive of mammals: today's consumer.
KIZER & BENDER are well known
for their unique and intensive consumer research. Any speaker can
talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them.
In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and
intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every
kind of customer you can imagine. And maybe even a few that you
can't. The result of their research is literally straight from the
customers' mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to
better serve your own customers.
KIZER & BENDER's observations
are widely featured in the medias, including the ABC News special
report "How Stores Hook You." Their books Champagne Strategies on a
Beer Budget! and Jingle Bells... Christmas Sells" have helped
thousands of retailers improve their bottom line, and their by-
lined column, Georganne & Rich on the Road was twice honored with
The American Society of Business Publication Editors Award of
Since 1989, KIZER & BENDER's
presentations have blended brilliant content with colorful examples,
humor and insight. You'll learn while you laugh! And you'll come
away with inspiration, strategies, tactics, tips and techniques you
can use the second you return to your business!
Where to find KIZER & BENDER:
103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206,
St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098
COPYRIGHT KIZER & BENDER 2009. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED