The Oakland County area has an abundance of opportunities for existing businesses and new ventures.
When the going gets rough, the entrepreneurial spirit gets creative and resourceful.
The Oakland Press has gathered upcoming events, news and links to help business owners and professionals succeed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Farmers markets offer more than produce

Farmers Markets are a great place to buy fresh produce and find new food products. Entrepreneurs will often start out marketing food products at the markets. Some merchants sell at several markets on different days of the week. In Oakland County, there is a farmers markets on every day of the week except Monday. Most markets are held once a week. Here is a complete list of Oakland County markets.

Auburn Hills Farmers Market, 3308 Auburn Road, behind Duffy’s, open 3-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 7 through end of season, 248-504-8102, auburnhills.org/farmersmarket/

Birmingham Farmers Market, 660 N. Old Woodward Ave., Parking Lot No. 6 N. Old Woodward Ave., north of Harmon, open 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Sundays, May 6- Oct. 28, 248-530-1200, enjoybirmingham.com/event-birmingham-farmers-market-2/

Clarkston Farmers Market, 6558 Waldon Road, in the front lot of the Renaissance High School/Community Education building in Clarkston. Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays, June 23 through Oct. 13, 248-821-4769, clarkstonfarmersmarket.org/

Clawson Farmers Market, Clawson City Park, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, July 29 - Sept. 30, 248-435-6500, clawsonfarmersmarket.info/

Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market, at Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion, 33113 Grand River Ave., at Grove St., open 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, May 5- Nov. 17, 248-473-7276 ext. 13,
downtownfarmington.org/Downtown-Events/Whats-Happening/Farmers-Artisans-Market/

Lake Orion Farmers Market Downtown, S. Anderson St., two blocks south of Flint Street and one block east of Broadway, near Children’s Park. open 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays, June 6- Aug. 29, 248-693-9742, www.lakeorionfarmersmarket.com/

Lathrup Village, 27400 Southfield Road, Lathrup Village, open 2 to 7 p.m., Wednesdays, open June 6 through end of season, lathrupvillage.org/index.aspx?NID=241/

Lyon Township Farmers Market, 56808 Grand River Avenue New Hudson, open 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Fridays, June 1-Oct. 12 .lyontwp.org/news_detail.php?NewsID=135/

Milford Farmers Market, on East Liberty Street between S. Main St. and Union St. open 3-8 p.m., Thursdays, May 10 through end of season, 248-496-7056, www.milfordfarmersmarket.org/ 

Northville, Northville Downs Track, 7 Mile and Sheldon, open 8  a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays, May 3-Oct. 25, 248-349-7640, www.northville.org/Events_Calendar/Content/Farmers_Market/

Novi Farmers Market, at Fuerst Park, corner of 10 Mile Road and Taft, Novi, open 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturdays, June 9 to Oct. 20, 248-504-8102, www.novifarmersmarket.com/

Oakland County Farmers Market, 2350 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. open 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, May to December and Saturdays year-round.

Orion Farmers Market at Canterbury Village on Joslyn Road north of I-75, open 2-7 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning June 14 and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, beginning May 7 through end of season. orionfarmersmarket.com/

Orion Farmers Market at Howarth United Methodist Church, 550 East Silverbell, east of M-24, Orion Township, open 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, June to October. Visit orionfarmersmarket.com/

Ortonville’s Beets, Beats and Eats, Crossman Park, downtown Ortonville, open 6-9 p.m.,Fridays, June 15- Aug. 31, 248-240-0907, www.downtownortonville.org/bbe/

Oxford Mill Street Farmers' Market, at the crossroads of Burdick and Mill Street, open 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, June through October, 248-770-8587, oxfordfarmersmarket.org/

Rochester Farmers Market, E. Third and Water St., open 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. Saturdays, May 5- Oct. 27, 248-656-0060, downtownrochestermi.com/events/farmers-market/

Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak Farmers Market, 3601 W. 13 Mile Road, Royal Oak, open 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 7, 248-898-3031, www.beaumont.edu/nutrition-services-farmers-market/

Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile, open 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays, May to December and Saturdays, year-round. 248-246-3276, http://www.ci.royal-oak.mi.us/portal/community-links/farmers-market

South Lyon Farmers Market, at Pontiac Trail and Liberty St., South Lyon, open 2-7 p.m. Wednesdays, May 23-Oct. 10, 248-437-1735, www.southlyonmi.org/

Springfield Farmers Market, 1200 Davisburg Road, Davisburg, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sundays, June 17 through the end of season, 248-846-6558, springfieldfarmersmarket.wordpress.com/

Walled Lake Farmers Market, 1499 E. W. Maple, Walled Lake, open 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays, May through October, 248-624-4847, local-farmers-markets.com/market/2527/walled-lake/walled-lake-farmers-market

White Lake, 1500 Bogie Lake Road 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, whitelakefarmersmarket.weebly.com/

Wixom Farmers Market, 49399 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 3-7 p.m. Thursdays, May 24- Oct. 4, 248-624-2850, wixomparksandrec.com/Default.aspx?id=11

Monday, July 30, 2012

Business events

July 31
The “Hired In Michigan” Career Expo sponsored by JobFairGiant.com and Sion Recruitment., is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 31 at Radisson Hotel, 39475 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills.
Participating employers will hire in the following industries: Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales, Finance, Customer Service, Management, Retail, Information Technology, Machining, Restaurant, Medical and many other great industries.
Businesses interested in registering for the career expo should contact Maria Westwood, Director, JobFairGiant.com at westwood@jobfairgiant.com or 734-956-4550.

July 31
The Oakland County Business Center is hosting Legal & Financial Basics for Small Business, 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 31 at the Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. The workshop is free, but registration is required at www.oakgov.com/peds/calendar or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 1
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business, 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.
It is presented by Oakland County and The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. The fee is $40.

Aug. 2
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783. It is presented by Oakland County Market Research and an Oakland County Public Library business reference librarian. This workshop is free, but registration is required.

Aug. 3
Starting Aug. 3, all residents of Michigan looking for a little food and fun to kick off the weekend will have the opportunity to do so at the Oakland County Business Association’s sponsored event, Fun First Fridays. The event, held at the Atrium of Novi, will take place on the first Friday of each month, noon to 6 p.m. for the remainder of this year. Proceeds will benefit Michigan individuals who are disabled. The event includes an open house in which local businesses from Novi, Wixom and Farmington Hills can set up booths and interact with members of the community by passing out promotional items or food samples. In addition, there will be a variety of activities, arts and crafts, entertainment and events to participate in including Adopt-a-Pet, the Atrium Farmer’s Market, a talent show, face painting and bowling. Those interested in attending or being an exhibitor, should visit FunFirstFridays.com, email FunFirstFridays@gmail.com or call 248-396-0396.

Aug. 6
Band of Angels is partnering with Joe Bologna, overseer of Joe Bologna Restaurants, for the Joe Bologna 12th Annual Golf Outing for Down Syndrome on Monday, August 6 at Greystone Golf Club 67500 Mound Road, Washington. Proceeds will help children and adults with Down syndrome and other cognitive challenges. The $150 per golfer fee includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, golf and 3 hour open bar along with an auction. Tickets also available for just dinner and drinks for $60 each. For information, call 586-752-7030.

Aug. 7
The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club 22nd annual Orrie Donley Golf Outing begins with registration at 8 a.m. and shotgun start at 9 a.m. Aug. 7 at Farmington Hills Golf Club, 37777 Eleven Mile Court, Farmington Hills. The proceeds benefit youth programs in Farmington and Farmington Hills. A golf package is $100 and includes 18 holes of golf, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hole sponsorships are available starting at $100. Prize donations are sought. Register at www.f2hoptimists.org or call Corey Bartsch, Farmington Hills Fire Chief at 248-871-2800.

Aug. 8
The Community House (TCH) will continue its monthly Bulletproof Your Success Business Lectures, presented by Camille Jayne, President and CEO of TCH. The lectures offer tools and processes that business people can start using immediately to help “bulletproof” their personal business effectiveness.
The next lecture, “If the Devil is in the Details, You Had Better Know Which Ones” Success Business Cluster: No Fail Business Planning is Aug. 8 at The Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. The fee per lecture is $35, add $10 for lunch. For more information and to register, visit www.tchbulletproof.org.

Aug. 8
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting  CEED Microloan Orientation, 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.
The orientation is presented by Oakland County and the Center for Empowerment & Economic Development (C.E.E.D.) This workshop is free, but registration is required, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 8
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting  Twitter for Business (Beginner) is 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. The class covers how to create a Twitter account and profile, choose the best user name, learn Twitter lingo, how to protect a brand, and more. The fee is $40. Those who attend this session are able to sign up for Twitter for Business (Intermediate), 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 15 and Twitter for Business (Advanced), 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 22. The fee for each class is $40. Register at www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 9
The Real Estate Investors Assoc. of Oakland is hosting a workshop on buying financial notes secured by real estate at a discount and re-selling the note for a profit, is 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at Club Venetian, John R Road, Madison Heights. Seminar is free to members and $20 for nonmembers. Call 800-747-6742 or visit www.REIAofOakland.com.

Aug. 9
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting
FastTrac GrowthVenture is Aug. 9 through Oct. 11 (10 sessions). Classes are 6 to 9 p.m. at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.
FastTrac GrowthVenture is an intensive, 10-week program designed for owners, CEO's and top management team members of small businesses with at least two years of operating experience, minimum of two employees, and annual revenue of between $100,000 and $749,000.
For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783. FastTrac GrowthVenture is normally $700 per participant. Sponsor support allows us to offer a scholarship-reduced rate of $140.

Aug. 9
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting  Team SBA Financing Roundtable,  9 a.m. to noon, Aug. 9 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.
This session is best suited to those with good credit, a solid business idea and money to invest in their business. The session will demystify small business financing and the lending process. This workshop is free, but registration is required, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Aug. 9
The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center is hosting  Fundamentals of Starting a Business, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. Participants examine their entrepreneurial skills, learn how to implement their ideas and receive a list of pitfalls to avoid when starting a business. The fee is $30. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com or call 248-858-0783.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Business events this week

Business events in the Oakland County area. If you have an event, please add to The Oakland Press online calendar submission. It's free and we publish as space permits. Visit  theoaklandpress.com/calendar/?showdate=2012-07-23&cal=business

July 25
Automation Alley is hosting a workshop about the four management systems, 8:30 to 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 25 at Automation Alley, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. The four management systems:
1) Accounting – find out why this is not the only system you need.
2) Operations – show you how to measure, manage and improve.
3) Revenue - planning future sales doesn’t have to be a guessing game
4) Cash Flow - how to plan your cash flow 3 months out.
The cost is free and includes a continental breakfast, but space is limited to 20 and registration is required at michigancfo.com/events/workshops. For information, email Brian Bach at bbach@michigancfo.com or call 248-563-7996.

July 25
Business Briefing: Health Care Reform Update is 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 25 at Walsh College 3838 Livernois Road, Troy.
To prepare for the new Summary of Benefits and Coverage requirements. The presenter is Tina Marie Wohlfield, Benefit Review Services Inc. The Supreme Court decision has been announced and the provisions of the Affordable Care Act requirements will continue to move forward. Employers must now begin shifting focus to compliance. The Walsh Institute Leadership Center and sponsor Benefit Review Services present this interactive session for local business owners, HR personnel, CFOs and others responsible for benefit plans within their organizations. This session is limited to 30 small business owners, CFOs and HR staff. Session will be repeated if filled. For information, contact Jan Hubbard at Jhubbard@walshcollege.edu or call 248-823-1392.

July 25
Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening is 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 25 at Jack's Ship N Shop, 7400 Highland Road, Waterford Township. For information, contact the Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce at 248-666-8600 or email info@waterfordchamber.org.

July 25
The Community House will facilitate an evening of “Structured Business Networking,” 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 25 at the center, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. The evening includes appetizers and desserts. Open networking begins at 5:30 p.m. The session will introduce attendees to a minimum of 12 professionals while talking business through a business introduction process facilitated by Camille Jayne, president and CEO of The Community House. Admission is $35 per person, which includes appetizers and desserts. Cash bar. To register, contact The Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham, 248-644-5832, or visit www.tchserves.org.

July 26
International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) announces that the 42nd Annual ICSC Michigan IDEA Exchange and Alliance Program is Thursday, July 26 at The Henry (former Ritz Carlton) in Dearborn. There will be a Keynote presentation by Dave Bolen, CEO and President of Farmington Hills based Pet Supplies "Plus," a General Session featuring Matt Cullen, CEO of Rock Ventures, LLC;  and Matt Gibb, Deputy County Executive at Oakland County, 17 interactive roundtable discussions, and two hours of deal making. To register, visit www.icsc.org/srch/mt/descs/2012MI/2012MI.pdf.

July 26
The Bolos Academy is presenting a free seminar from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 26 at Huntington Bank, 1040 East Maple, Birmingham. The event, “Create the Path that is Right for You” will feature motivational speaker Sadie Bolos O'Neill. Business owners, entrepreneurs or those thinking of starting a business may want to attend the seminar, which is sponsored by Huntington Bank. Seating is limited. To register, call 313-886-3676 or email sadie@sadiebolos.com.

July 31
Detroit SCORE (SBA Sponsored) “Counselors to America’s Small Business” is hosting a workshop, “Could I, Should I Start My Own Business?” from 8:45 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 31 at the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce, 22100 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. The cost is $10. Register at www.detroit.score.org or call 313-226-7947.

July 31
The “Hired In Michigan” Career Expo sponsored by JobFairGiant.com and Sion Recruitment is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 31 at Radisson Hotel, 39475 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills.
Participating employers will hire in the following industries: Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales, Finance, Customer Service, Management, Retail, Information Technology, Machining, Restaurant, Medical and many other great industries. Businesses interested in registering for the career expo should contact Maria Westwood, Director, JobFairGiant.com at westwood@jobfairgiant.com or 734-956-4550.

July 31
The Oakland County Business Center is hosting Legal & Financial Basics for Small Business, 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 31 at the Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township.k The workshop is free, but registration is required at www.oakgov.com/peds/calendar or call 248-858-0783.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Retailers to pass surcharges on to consumers

Christmas may be more expensive for Michigan consumers, thanks to a lawsuit settlement by merchants against Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc, according to a report by the Associated Press. In part of the settlement, the credit card companies agreed to allow merchants to charge surcharges. Credit card companies typically charge merchants 1.5 to 3 percent per transaction for surcharges. Merchants have had to figure this in their cost of doing business.
This affects the majority of states, including Michigan.
The settlement awaits approval in U.S. District Court, which may not happen until the end of the year, or even later, according to the “The Wall Street Journal.”
At that time, merchants may assess an extra 2.5 percent or 3 percent, when using a credit card.
The settlement doesn’t include debit cards.
American Express Co. and Discover Financial Services will also permit the surcharges.

Visa, Mastercard in $6 billion settlement over card fees
The Oakland Press

  
Q&A: How the Credit Card Settlement Affects You
The Wall Street Journal


Vacation: Connected or unplugged

With so much focus on staying connected, how do we unplug ourselves from work when we are on vacation?
While on vacation recently, I checked my email during the week, saw several issues that needed a communication (or did they) and realized how swamped I would be once back at work. I checked in on Facebook, but drew the line on social media there. Still, it was like I didn't miss a beat when I returned and the feeling of being overwhelmed, stressed and burnt out, was still there.
My advice to those with vacations to come, is to unplug from work completely, if possible. If you are a go-to person, give your cell phone number to a responsible person who will only call if absolutely necessary. If everybody has your cell phone, record an away message for your voicemail and screen your calls.
With the ongoing high unemployment rate, there's a tendency to do whatever it takes to keep a job. But the truth is, we're setting standards that aren't healthy or in our best interest. Also, taking a break from work, can actually improve productivity.
It's summertime, we should be enjoying some relaxation and fun outside. If you can't fit in a week of it, I hope you can grab some summer enjoyment here and there, to make it a summer of fond memories, not just another work week.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fear prevails for investing

Ken Morris, financial adviser, has written many financial articles for The Oakland Press. Here is his most recent article with an excerpt below.

 "Stock dividends are a ray of sunshine in tumultuous world of doom and gloom,"



 "One aspect of being a financial adviser I especially enjoy is that my career provides me the opportunity to meet and interact with people of varied backgrounds...."

"One common thread from most of the people I talk with is fear. They’re concerned about the economic uncertainty that exists throughout the economy. If elected officials don’t believe that taxes influence financial decisions, they are clearly not talking to the people that I interact with on a daily basis.
I’ve come to the conclusion, people can accept change, if they feel it is fair. But they do not like the continued uncertainty and listless economic drifting that seems to have become the norm."


Contact Ken Morris at 248-952-1848 or email to ken.morris@investfinancial.com.  Ken is a registered representative of INVEST Financial, member FINRA, SIPC and is vice president of the Society for Lifetime Planning in Troy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summertime blues: 10 tips for employers


Submitted by  Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations
Memphis, TN (June 2012)—“Even if your employees are (understandably) daydreaming about vacations and longing for some fun in the sun, it’s important not to lose momentum,” confirms Averwater, author of the new book Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing (ABB Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9839790-7-4, $19.95). “The good news is with the right managerial skills, you’ll have just as much power to influence their attitudes as the weather does. Great leaders know when to give and take from their employees. And the summer happens to be a time when you’ll have to do a little more giving in order to keep them motivated and happy.”
A third generation retailer who has spent 38 years building his own stores and assisting others, Averwater knows what he’s talking about. In Retail Truths, he provides a compendium of over 400 lessons for retailers that often have to be learned in the school of hard knocks. The book covers everything from selling to pricing to employee management, and yes, even how to maintain motivation when the going gets tough.
“No matter what you’re selling, I promise you that if you have the right attitude as a leader, your employees will not only give their best efforts, but love their work—no matter what the weather forecast says!” promises Averwater. “Your employees want to be valued team members. When you provide them with necessary training and tools, provide ongoing infor-mation and feedback, and recognize and respect their efforts and contributions, this summer and every time of year, you’ll keep that spark alive.”

Make this the summer of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. In general, we like people who like us. When we’re treated with respect and our efforts are met with appreciation, we tend to do our best. But when we’re around people who don’t understand and appreciate our abilities, knowledge, interests, and accomplishments, we have no inclination to help. This summer, make an effort to regularly remind your employees how much you respect them and appreciate what they do for your business.
“Remember, showing respect is simple and inexpensive,” notes Averwater. “Phrasing communication politely, taking the time to listen and understand an employee’s viewpoint, recognizing his abilities and contributions, offering a word of appreciation, etc. are all great ways to show your respect. Another great way to show respect during the summer is to offer flexibility. When you show your employees you value their time with their families and their enjoyment of the season, they’ll feel you respect them as much as they respect you. Offer employees the option of a flexible summer schedule so that they can adjust their shifts to attend their kids’ sporting events or attend other fun in the sun activities like pool parties and summer concerts.”
Be sympathetic to the summertime blues. Maybe a certain employee has started coming in late for his shift since the days have grown warmer and longer. Or maybe you’ve noticed that another employee is less enthusiastic and constantly talking about how she hates being stuck inside or would rather be at the pool. Badgering and scolding these folks will likely result in worse attitudes, poor self-images, and rebellion. It’s much better to reinforce positive behaviors and think of less desirable behaviors as temporary and uncharacteristic.
“Our people like us when we have high opinions of them, and they’re proud when they live up to our expectations,” shares Averwater."
Strive to make the atmosphere in your organization as sunny as it is outside…starting with yourself. Your employees will treat customers as you treat them. Attitude and tone emanate from the top. If you grumble to them about how you’d rather be with your family at the lake or at home working in your garden, they’ll pass on an “I’d rather be somewhere else” attitude to your customers.
“Greet your employees each morning or as they show up for their shifts with a smile and some encouraging words,” suggests Averwater. “Acknowledge the challenge of being at work during such a nice time of the year. You might say, ‘I’m sure our customers will be out to have some fun on such a gorgeous day, so let’s have some fun in here too!’ Your positivity will be contagious, and your employees will pass it on to your customers.”
Fight warm weather lethargy with motivating requests. Think back to your summer breaks from school as a kid. Did your parents ever give you a list of chores they wanted you to complete before they returned home from work? Chances are that list may have come with an unwritten “or else you’ll be in big trouble” at the end. That probably wasn’t very motivating, and trying to drive your employees with similar commands won’t be effective either. Always keep in mind that the phrasing of a request determines in large part the enthusiasm with which it’s executed.
“You can snap your employees out of warm weather lethargy when you acknowledge their special abilities or compliment them on past achievements,” says Averwater. “Here’s an example of what I mean: ‘Sally, it was so nice of you to help Mr. Braxton with his bags last week when it was so hot out. Would you please keep an eye out for our elderly customers and do the same for them today?’ is much more likely to have positive results than, ‘Sally, go help these customers.’”
Make responsibility a summer reward. Understand that responsibility is an honor and a reward. Just as every ballplayer wants to be in the game, every employee wants to be in charge of something, to prove what he can do, and to be recognized and respected for his contributions and successes. The summer is actually a great time of year to use added responsibility to inspire and motivate your employees.
“Don’t automatically assume that your people will view responsibility as a burden or chore,” advises Averwater. “They’ll probably welcome it. Responsibility makes work challenging, interesting, fun, and fulfilling. Giving responsibility is recognition, endorsement of abilities, and an expression of trust.”
Make this the Summer of Why? Occasionally (or maybe frequently), you’ll get an employee who has her own method for completing a task. It can be nearly irresistible to point out what she’s doing wrong and then explain to her the “correct” way of getting things done. But instead of trying to force her into doing things your way, ask her why she does things her way.
“When an employee makes her own decisions and improvements, she’ll work with more pride and dedication,” he explains. “You’ll often get the best results when you give your people a little latitude rather than precise instructions. Even if they don’t come up with the most efficient method, their commitment usually makes up for the inefficiencies. And who’s to say that someone won’t come up with a better way, especially after getting a little experience? When they do, be sure to recognize their achievements. If you find that someone’s method is likely to create expensive problems, then you can step in with some suggestions.”
Highlight your Summer Superstars. It costs nothing but a little time to tell an employee he’s done a good job. Yet it can improve his attitude and enthusiasm for a day or a week—sometimes even a lifetime. So if you see enthusiasm wilting this summer, recognize deserving employees for special achievements, unusual abilities, or important roles. You’ll boost their pride and inspire them to contribute more.
“Highlight a weekly ‘Summer Superstar’ by posting an employee’s photo and a big achievement from the week before at the front of your store,” says Averwater. “Or recognize your entire staff with a special treat in the break room each week.
Don’t let yourself fall into a summer slump. Since when has “Do as I say, not as I do” ever been an effective strategy? The fact is, your actions will be presumed to represent your real values, and your words (past, present, and future) will lose their credibility if they conflict with your behavior.
“So this summer, you can’t come in late, take longer lunches, and slip out early on Fridays, while you’re telling your employees they need to be more dedicated,” says Averwater. “If anything, rededicate yourself to your work so that your people will have a good example to follow. When your words and actions match, the combination is a powerful illustration and endorsement of your processes and your credibility.”
Keep communication lines open, even when you’re away. Even if you manage to avoid a summer slump, chances are at some point you’ll go on vacation this summer. And while you’re gone, rumors and other pieces of misinformation may pop up since you aren’t there to deny them or clarify them. Be sure to stay in touch with your employees and make sure they know it’s okay to bring their questions to you even when you’re away.
“When you don’t answer your employees’ questions, they’ll find answers elsewhere or come up with their own,” notes Averwater. “In most cases, these answers aren’t the ones you would prefer, and they’re often much worse than the truth. Unlikely possibilities grow into perceived realities, creating negative feelings and distrust of the company. So even if you think your people won’t like it, sharing the truth is almost always better than risking the stories that will inevitably spread.”
Don’t give your employees a reason to make a post-summer exodus. Understand that employees don’t quit their jobs; they quit their managers. A poor relationship with the manager is the impetus for leaving a job more often than working conditions, pay, better opportunity, or any other oft-cited reason…regardless of what the employee says. In most cases, the cause for quitting is a confrontation that indicates a lack of respect for the employee, his work, or his motives.
“If you spend the summer complaining about this or that small mistake that an employee or employees have made or never give your employees any breathing room to make their own decisions and actually enjoy their work, they won’t have much reason to stick with you,” points out Averwater. “A manager’s bursts of anger or frustration can leave lasting scars. And most employees would rather find other work than risk continuing conflict—even when they otherwise enjoy the job! Let this piece of truth motivate you to always stay positive and constructive as you do your summer motivating.”
About the Author:
Chip Averwater is a third generation retailer and chairman of Amro Music Stores in Memphis, TN. He has been a featured speaker on retailing in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia. He is the author of Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing (ABB Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9839790-7-4, $19.95).
For more information, visit www.retailtruths.com.
About the Book:
Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing (ABB Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9839790-7-4, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.