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Bill Crawford's Blog

Strategic Management, Part 3

We have had two previous sessions so far. If you haven’t caught the previous two, it won’t take you long to get caught up. The first article was in the February issue of the Natural Foods Merchandiser. If you don’t have the print edition handy, the article can be found on-line The second article was the previous post in this blog, made on the 10th of February.

For a plan to be well-conceived and to have the practical elements that will lend to its success, it has to have input from people at every level of an organization. Typically, we would refer to this as being from Senior Management, Middle Management, First-Line Managers and Supervisors, and from Employees. In an independent retail operation, you may not have that degree of stratification. (In fact, it would probably be best if you didn’t!) However, if a store owner puts together a plan but doesn’t involve his employees – regardless of their position – he or she is not using a vital tool in the formation of the plan and is missing out on vital input to its structure. The buy-in or acceptance of the plan (which is a key ingredient in its eventual success) may also be missing.

Conversely, I don’t think that everyone in your employ automatically gets the right to have input into the future of your business either! Who has shown that they are committed to your store and its success? Who embodies customer service and other key values that you do? Who treats their work at your store as more of a career than just a job? These are the kind of folks that you would want to have input from when creating a strategic plan.

This is not one of those activities that you can delegate, walk away from, trust your employees, and be confident that it will be done. Your involvement is key – after all, you own and/or run this store. There is no way that plans or decisions about its future can or should be made without your being a part of the discussion and process.

The leadership role in natural products stores is one that I’ve been privileged to write and talk about a bit recently. This past October, I wrote about this topic in an article entitled “Retail Is Detail” in the Natural Foods Merchandiser. The link to that article is -

I also did a live seminar along these lines as a part of the Advanced Retailer Training Series at Expo East in Boston last year. We called this session – “Double Vision – How To Keep Your Eyes on Both the Present and the Future.” The focus was about the dual roles that a store owner has – being the creative visionary while also being the day to day manager. The following link has a place for you to download both a copy of my notes from this presentation and an audio file (MP3) of the live session -

Our next part of this series will be in the March print and on-line editions of the Natural Foods Merchandiser. We talk about the importance of a Mission Statement.

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