Tobacconist University
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Drive Your Business

Drive your business, don't ride it.  It's too easy to let your business coast.  It's too easy to react, play defense, and follow trends.  But great business people know they must be proactive, play offense, stay ahead of the curve, lead rather than follow, and drive your business forward rather than ride it out...  Being a great tobacconist means you need to think ahead, forecast trends, and educate your customers.

If you are selling what's hot on the interwebs or social media, then you are just reacting and following.  This strategy means you will be selling the same stuff all of your competitors are selling and you will fade into the sunset of mediocrity.  Constant improvement, bucking the trends, and innovation are the only way to stay ahead of your competition.  If the brands you carry are showing up on discount mail order sites, then you are behind the curve.  If you are buying what seems hot in social media, then you are reacting defensively.  If you are chasing ratings to fill your humidor, then you are becoming a generic retailer and the discount mail order industry will bury you.

Edit your inventory, vet your products, educate and enlighten your customers and you may succeed.  But don't play defense today.  It's 2015 and consumers are more educated than ever, so any great tobacconist must stay ahead of the curve... But a proactive business creates their own curve.  Don't react to the market.  Make your market.  Be about something (#beaboutsomething): educate!  Let your customers know you edit your products and don't carry the flavor of the month just to be trendy.

But all of this is not enough.  A business is only as good as their employees.  Employees who maintain standards are fine and sometimes we are lucky to have a few of those.  But great employees innovate, improve, and bring vitality to the business.  Ask your tobacconists to elevate merchandising, improve cleanliness/organization, find new products, and teach you something.  Retail tobacconists need to be innovative, proactive, and forward thinking.  If you are spending time trying to maintain standards then you are riding your business and reacting.  Challenge your tobacconists to DRIVE THE BUSINESS: take ownership and pride by improving your professionalism, service, and products!  Again, a business is only as good as its employees, so teach them to drive!