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Selecting Coaches and Advisors
Making the Team
In our shop many years ago, we had a part time technician. He was only available to us in the late afternoons and weekends. This unique availability worked fine for our place as we offered extended shop hours to our customers. His schedule in our shop worked this way because he was a full time school teacher.
Our other technician was referred to by our staff and our customers by name, "Chuck". Our part time technician was referred to by his title, "Coach" instead of his name. For many years of his teaching career, Coach was also in charge of the local high school's baseball team.
In many small towns, and especially across the south, the title of "Coach" is given to someone that is highly respected. Calling a person by this title shows our respect for their work and for them as an individual. There were occasional evenings when "Coach" and I talked about his title and our observations of the customers that referred to him as "Coach".
Now that you are out of school and operating a business, you may think that the only occasion for you to call someone "Coach" will occur as your children are in school sports, if a coach comes to do business in your shop, or if you happen to hire a coach as a technician as we did. However, there is still a valid place in your life, and in the life of your business for a coach.
The tradition in the power equipment industry, or any small business, is for us to work hard to become an owner or manager. We learn from the person that has held the position before us, and once that new position is ours, we are on our own. Most of the new ideas that we will be exposed to, and adopt in our business, are picked up from magazine articles such as this, attending seminars at Expo, or by participating in a program established by a vendor, such as ExMark's ProCertified Dealer.
As it worked successfully in most of our lives, the concept of a "coach" is one deserving of a second consideration. For this second look, we are going to suggest coaching with a slightly different twist. And there is a strong likelihood that the coaches you will select after this article are highly qualified, cost you nothing, and be individuals that you already know.
Not to take anything away from the three sources of new ideas that we have already mentioned, but one of the points in common that they share is that they are exclusive to this industry. There are however, many other people in your community that can expose you to some new thoughts and ideas that will have a high percentage change of succeeding in your business.
Our suggestion is not that you have a coach, but a group of coaches. And as you select these coaches, you will find yourself becoming a coach to those you have selected. Those candidates that will most likely be chosen are individuals that own and manage the other small businesses in your community.
Think about the person that runs the best locally owned pharmacy in your area, a local clothing store, the variety store, a lumber yard, restaurant, garden center, floor covering business, and florist - just to name a few. You might even want to consider someone that is a manager for a local chain store.
Carefully select your candidates and speak to them on a one on one basis. As you visit with each of them, tell them who else you are considering as members of your coaching group. You will want to make sure that you do not include any two individuals whose businesses compete with each other. Select a time and location away from everyone's business where all of your "coaching" team can visit with each other.
If the idea of everyone working together is one that you cannot "sell" to each of your candidates, you can consider utilizing each of them for your business in a one on one scenario.
What are you going to learn from these coaches? From the experiences of this writer and speaker, every niche of the retail and service industries has numerous aspects that are unique to them. On the other hand, there are many management and operation aspects that are similar to each of their businesses.
From the standpoint of the layout of your sales floor, there is a lot of similarity in your shop, that of a pharmacy as well as the local lighting supply. All three of these businesses, and several others similar ones, have a counter at the back where people go to see a specialist - be it a technician, pharmacist, or repair person. The traffic flow, and the way people behave in these businesses is quite similar.
Your power equipment shop and a local garden center are also very similar as they do the majority of their business in the warmer months and depend on a mix of consumer and commercial accounts.
Likewise the strengths of one business can often be the weakness of another. While our industry is not noted for having the most attractive sales floors, the manager or owner of a clothing store could probably teach us a few things that would help us have a sales floor that could sell merchandise just by the way the items are shown.
If you were ever on a sports team, you probably had a coach that was able to cause a marked improvement in how you played the game by helping you make several subtle changes in your efforts. That concept of a coach can work today for your business. Pick your team carefully and begin to score some more profit.