The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing
“A compendium of street-smart retailing insights and acumen.”
427 lessons retailers learn only on the frontline. No academic theory — just the hard-nosed realities shrewd retailers discover with experience and use to build profitable stores. Truths discussed include:
- Wholesale is the cost of the merchandise, not the cost of the sale.
- There is no magic close.
- Profit is not immoral.
- Expecting to get the sale is half of getting it.
- They hear what you say, but they do what you pay.
- A manager is not a referee.
- A return policy is a tool, not a rule.
- Good management is an attitude, not a technique.
- Be-backs don’t come back.
- He who underestimates his costs gets the sale.
- A sales presentation is not the place to give a business education.
- You’re not in business if you’re not in show business.
- The last few percentage points are the profit.
- Merchandise is for sale, not for storage.
- People like to do business where business is being done.
- Inventory expands to fill all space.
- A good salesman makes a bad buyer.
- Building a brand doesn’t make you its owner.
- A weak competitor is a useful nuisance.
- Good isn’t good enough; only best gets the sale.
- The measure of a competitor is the price he can get.
- A company is known by the people it keeps.
- A retailer’s effectiveness can be measured by the animosity of his competitors.
- The applicant pool is not a cross section of the population.
- Tell the job, don’t sell it.
- Low wages aren’t a bargain, good people are.
- All applicants are smart until they speak.
- If it’s important to know, certify that it’s known.
- Employees treat customers as managers treat employees.
- The only appropriate discipline is de-hiring.
- Growth doesn’t produce cash, it consumes it.
- Bankers want you most when you need them least.
- A banking crisis is always just a personnel change away.
- Two stores don’t make twice as much.
- All business is gambling, but double-or-nothing is soon nothing.
- A little success creates a lot of overhead.
- If at first you do succeed, try not to believe you’re infallible.
Chip Averwater is a third-generation, 40-year veteran of retailing. In Retail Truths he shares the lessons of a career, gathered in over twelve years of writing.
“If you could own only one book on retailing, this should be the one.”
Review: "The Ultimate Guide to Successful Retail. In Retail Truths, Chip Averwater distills 40 years of hard-won experience into 380 highly readable pages. ...instead of banal generalities, he offers specific and detailed suggestions that will resonate with anyone who has spent time in the industry.
Averwater provides an exhaustive list of the critical details that separate stellar performers from the casualties, and his insights are invariably on the mark. On the need for fiscal prudence, he writes, "A store needs profits, not so the owners or investors can winter in the Caribbean but to grow inventories, expand locations, add personnel, or upgrade systems." Are bigger stores better? He observes, "An abundance of space indulges our tendencies to disorganization. What we usually need isn't more space, but purchase planning and inventory management. Efficiency is seldom fun but always rewarding."
Based on long personal experience, Averwater concludes that a good salesperson can easily be five times as productive as a laggard, and says high-priced salespeople "are an expense we want." In a lengthy segment devoted to personnel, he offers a blueprint for hiring and retaining those top performers—from how to screen out undesirables in the hiring process ("Less than one in 20 job applicants is a suitable candidate") to maintaining high morale ("A manager's words resonate for a while then fade. Incentives speak with every paycheck.")
We suspect that Retail Truths will ring true to any thoughtful practitioner of store management."
--Music Trades, April 2012