I probably should have known this all along. As vice president of retail for a footwear company it was clear that within our company stores, those most likely to succeed were the ones that had the most committed managers. The stores that maintained a healthy business were the ones paying attention to customers, taking advantage of opportunities and pressing my department for all the assistance it could provide. The managers that struggled, were the ones that complained; the ones that asked for help but did not implement the assistance provided with enthusiasm. Even though each store had the same name over the door, the managers who imagined their name next to it and took responsibility to add some polish to that name were the winners.
Having delivered technical assistance to independent retail businesses now for over a fifteen years, I can attest that the same phenomenon is true among downtown shop owners everywhere. RetailVisioning has worked with over 750 urban retail businesses. Those that have improved their businesses and created opportunities for success have been the ones that have put in the effort. They have been the ones that listened to new ideas, tried new methods and put themselves on the line for their own success. They wanted it. And it is only by the luck of the draw that they were even in a TA program.
So how does this inform TA programs everywhere? It turns the evaluation/application process upside down.
Neighborhood Managers, Main St. Directors, ED officers and others with responsibility for helping commercial districts thrive, have tried all kinds of methods to determine who would be the best candidates for technical assistance. Assessing a business’ performance and potential for improvement based on limited data, uneasy relations with officials who may be in a position to help, and the wrong-minded belief that the fix will come from the outside is unfortunately been ineffective. Long forms that try to determine need are just not useful in determining want.
To revisit your application for TA and to consider adding in some tests to determine commitment, desire and the capacity to be ready, willing and open to change… contact me, Chris@RetailVisioning.com