Bill Crawford's Blog

Thinking Long Term - Taking Care of the Present

My wife and I were blessed this week with the arrival of our first grandchild! Young Bayly arrived tipping the scales at 9 pounds and 1 ounce and at 21 inches long. She is a beautiful, healthy baby girl! As the weeks leading up to her birth have come and gone, we (mostly my wife!) have been helping our daughter prepare for motherhood.

We, hopefully, helped her prepare well for being the mother of an infant. We tried to do more than that, however, and hope that we helped her prepare for being a mother. You see, her baby is only going to be an infant for a period of time. During that period of time, she will need special clothes, special attention and special care. When that time is over, her mom and dad’s work is far from done. During the next phase (or should I say “phases”) there will be a few set of needs.

If she only prepares for infancy, she’ll find herself quite unprepared pretty quickly!
Years ago, a good friend of mine who was the pastor of a local church told me about how he handled pre-marital counseling. Debra and I were engaged at the time and were going to be married at his church. He said that while he wanted couples to have a good wedding, he wanted much more than that for them to have a good marriage. He focused on life after the wedding to help them see what was coming.

Am I just waxing nostalgic and sentimental after the emotions of these past few days? I am – but I don’t think that I am “just” doing that!

If you are a retailer, your store is like one of your children. You are working hard to help it grow, mature, and become a part of your community.

You have to be sure to “parent” it facing the issues at hand – but do so with a longer-term view of it in mind. The decisions that you make today about production selection, staffing, location, the messaging in your advertising, etc. are all going to have an influence on your store’s later years.

In the same way that a parent can influence their child’s life by the food that they allow and the TV that they permit, a store owner can do the same by the decisions that he or she makes.

During the lo carb craze, I saw stores in many markets called “the lo carb…….” Most of those stores are now closed. They built on the fad and weren’t ready for the day to day after that fad had peaked. Can I say it this way? They had a gorgeous wedding, but they are now divorced. They only deal with the immediate future and not with what was coming afterwards.

Deal with situations and opportunities at hand – but keep an eye on the future because that is where you are heading! It will help you prepare when you get there! How different is UNFI from the handful of local distributors that folks like Michael Funk, Richard Youngman, Norm Cloutier, and their associates began? How did they get from where they were to where they are? They took care of the current needs but also had their eyes on the future opportunities.

(If you are going to be joining us at Expo West ( in March, one of the seminars that I will be presenting is along these lines. I call it “How to Dot Your T’s Without Crossing Your I’s.” We talk about the challenges of being both a manager and a leader in your store at the same time. If you are a store owner or manager, please try to join us at 1 PM on Friday the 12th in Room 205-B of the Anaheim Convention Center!)

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