Why Do Independent Retailers Fail?

A New York Times business columnist asked me this question.  “There are three reasons”, I replied.

They ignore numbers.

They ignore customers.

They ignore their own story.

All of this happens because they are so busy running their stores.  They don’t stop multi tasking long enough to be strategic and develop a plan.





Yes, it is simple to fix this mistake but not easy or all retailers would be calling in their orders from the side of a pool in the Grecian Isles or from the beautifully landscaped one in the backyard of their palatial estate.

It is such a crime to let the urgent drown out the important.  Stephen Covey illustrates that point so wonderfully in his bestselling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  The following illustration shows his time management matrix.

Notice the titles on the top and on the left side.  The first step is to judge if what you are doing is URGENT or IMPORTANT.  Next look at how that breaks down into four quadrants.  Now look at those four quadrants and write down your own activities.  I challenge you to really evaluate your daily ‘time spent’ in terms of the labels of IMPORTANT & URGENT vs. IMPORTANT & NOT URGENT.    That is where your success truly lies.

For me, I spend so much time multitasking in the IMPORTANT&URGENT square.  As I thought more about it, I realized that much of my time spent in IMPORTANT & URGENT activities was nothing more than putting out fires.  Certainly a fire is URGENT and dealing with it is IMPORTANT.
What hit me right between the eyes when I did this was that many of these fires were preventable.  I had to start working on fire prevention!

What would your day look like if you had only 1 or 2 fires to put out?

Wow, that can be my life.  I can make the choice.

“Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”  says Smokey the Bear

“Only YOU can prevent retail store fires!” says Cathy Wagner the RETAIL Maven.

Fires destroy small retailers.

While they are putting out fires, store owners are ignoring the numbers, ignoring customers and ignoring their own story.   We will talk more about that next week.  But I want you to see what happens when you choose to multi-task all those IMPORTANT&URGENT fires.  You are much too busy to be strategic about your store.

By ignoring those key items, a retailer’s store goes up in flames.

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