Martin: Attitude Plus Behavior Brings Results
By Jeff Linville - Furniture Today , 1/1/2007 San Diego
Ron Martin has penned four books with the word "easy" in the title, so it wasn't difficult for him to come up with some advice on running a retail operation.
Martin, a business consultant from Hawaii, told 23 retailers and 50 invited manufacturers and guests at the Contemporary Design Group conference here last month that the key to success is to understand that attitude plus behavior lead to results. This isn't evident to everyone, Martin said.
He recalled talking recently to a Hawaiian business owner who was moving from a prime commercial spot to a cheaper location. The owner said the company had never really recovered from 9/11 five years ago, which Martin said shows just how far a person will go to make excuses for poor sales.
It's not a good idea to say business is "slow," he said, because that conditions people to think that outside influences will determine their success or failure. "Ask yourself, 'What can I do right now, this minute to create more success?' " he said.
Some companies ask, "How's everybody else doing?" Those who are doing poorly want to hear about others who are struggling so they can feel better about themselves rather than doing something about it, he said.
The ones who are succeeding are too busy to worry what others are doing. Sometimes, the key to success is addition by subtraction. An underperforming employee may not only be doing poorly himself, but also dragging down the rest of the team with a bad attitude.
In his book "Success Made Easy," Martin writes, "It's surprising how many people go through life working at a job they hate.... I ask groups of people, 'Is anyone here serving a prison sentence? Did a judge order you to work 40 hours a week for this company?' " For some, the answer is quitting and going to a new place.
For many, however, he believes all that is needed is a new, positive way to look at their job and a way to achieve better numbers. As sports teams can attest, success cures a lot of ills.
Martin believes in charting goals and holding oneself accountable for reaching goals every week, every day, even every hour if a job makes that feasible. Workers need to know the goals, know if they aren't on track to meet them, and know how to get back on track.
He said managers can't hold people accountable for missing the bull's-eye if they can't see where they're aiming. Martin also suggested offering incentives to employees who exceed goals, to avoid what he called "thumb-in-armpit disease" where workers reach a goal, then slack off until it's time to start work on the next goal.
"The easiest way to succeed is not to make it easy to fail," he said. He added that while car dealers are known for their high-pressure sales tactics, furniture stores are often guilty of the opposite: "inactive, reactive, no pressure." An associate might stand near a counter, he said, and call out to shoppers, "You guys OK over there?"
He joked that some stores are using the Bible method to generate sales: "You put someone out there and pray to God they sell something."
In his speeches and books, Martin stresses that companies must accept that change and criticism are good and even essential to continued success.
Whether the change involves top management or sales associates, he said, there usually are three phases, which he calls the three A's:
Awkward (people reject change because it's unfamiliar), Application (people grow accustomed to the new way of doing things), and Automatic (the new ways become good habits).