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Knowing When to Pull the Trigger on a Decision and More of Your Questions Answered

Plus, what’s the best way to deal with a manager who doesn’t believe in “sugarcoating” feedback.




Knowing When to Pull the Trigger on a Decision and More of Your Questions Answered

How do you know when it’s time to renovate or refresh your store interior?

Lyn Falk, president of Retailworks, suggests these three rules of thumb: 1.) If you haven’t updated your interior in five years, you have a lot of repeat customers, and you’ve seen a drop in sales for no apparent reason — it’s time to refresh. 2.) If you haven’t done a refresh in five years and you have more than five years left on your lease, it’s time for a renovation. 3.) If you recently rebranded via a new or tweaked logo, new color palette, and new mission statement, then you need to bring that new “look/brand” into the interior ASAP.

How do you know when to pull the trigger on a decision?

It will never feel 100% right, so the question becomes how right should it feel? Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously thinks most decisions can be made when you have somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. Wait longer and you risk slipping into “analysis paralysis”. There are two other dangers of waiting: mistaking ruminating on an issue for productive consideration; and conformation bias. Studies with Wall Street traders show that after a certain point, additional information doesn’t yield better decisions (i.e., more accurate stock bets), it just confirmed existing positions. So, gather all the data you can, and then set a deadline to make the decision at hand. A date will force you to take action, which is usually the best option. As the old saying goes, make a decision. And then make it right.

I have a manager who I think can be demeaning in giving feedback, but when I bring it up, he says, “I don’t believe in sugarcoating criticism.” How do I deal with him?

It’s a thin line, but “I’m just being honest” is a poor excuse for humiliating someone. Yes, candor is a good thing, especially in a performance-driven workplace. But so is respect, which can be demonstrated in how things are said. Being direct with feedback doesn’t prevent you from finding the best way to deliver it. It’s also not effective as a form of communication. If people react defensively, the core of the message is lost. All that is left is the memory of how that person felt (bad). Sit down with your manager and review the recent work histories of some underperforming staff members. Ask him if he believes this person’s performance has improved as a result? If not, put it to him that perhaps he needs to try a softer approach. As I’m sure he likes to say, this is about results.

Too many shoppers these days seem really resistant to any offers of help. How do you break down their defenses? We’re not going to jump them. We sincerely just want to help.

“We’re good, thanks.” “Just looking.” “No, I’m OK, thanks.” Give someone the chance to provide a scripted response in a familiar situation and they surely will — often without even thinking about whether they could indeed do with some help looking at the merchandise in your store.
But the moment you disrupt the automatic reflex by interrupting people with something mildly interesting to think about, all bets are off. This strategy is known as the “pique technique,” and it works in a surprisingly wide array of situations, from sales to dating to even encounters with criminals (although we don’t suggest you try it with the latter.)

“It’s as if the unusual detail shakes the person out of a slumber, to see the moment as the beginning of an interaction, rather than as environmental noise to tune out,” Alex Fradera wrote recently on the Research Digest blog, reporting on a new meta-analysis that confirms the pique technique works. Derailed from their self-protective scripts, most people turn out to be fairly empathetic and generous and willing to engage strangers (even salespeople!). The original study supporting the pique technique came from a team of U.S. researchers who posed as panhandlers on the streets of Santa Cruz, CA. As you’d expect, when they asked, “Can you spare any change?” most people ignored them. When they asked, “Can you spare a quarter?” they did better. But when they asked, “Can you spare 37 cents?” an amazing 75% of passersby gave money.

Obviously, you need to strike the right balance. You don’t want to come across as kooky. But a request for an opinion on a display, a sincere compliment about her current eyewear, an offer to try on something can work. Being human begets being human.

Where can I get my old display cases refurbished?

We applaud your frugal instincts but this is a bit like getting your 14-year-old refrigerator reconditioned — you’re often better off buying a new one. “The costs are prohibitive and the old display structure is usually destroyed in the process,” notes display expert and author Larry Johnson. Johnson recommends you tell your display vendor what you liked about your old display and get them to help.



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