Many of you know I'm from Winnipeg and my parents were in the retail fabric business. It was something my Dad started when he married my Mom and moved out west. My Dad wasn't formally educated but he was a smart and sociable guy who had two priorities: family and the business. And the two were inextricably intertwined.
Anyone who's grown up in retail knows that owning a store is like having another sibling – one that requires constant nurturing and attention and is talked about day and night. I had the added complication of sharing a birthday with the store, but that's another story.
So today, on Father's Day, I've been thinking about my Dad and remembering some of the business lessons he taught me:
My Dad died in 2000. And as the son of an outspoken and opinionated guy, we didn't always agree, But we knew he loved us and we loved him. He truly enjoyed and respected people and always tried to help. I think that was the most satisfying part of his job. And so to you Dad, wherever you are, I just want to say I miss you a lot and thanks.
And if you want to read a truly heartfelt chronicle of father and son, check out Ian Brown's remembrances in the Globe, What we lose when our fathers are gone.
How funny is it that you share the same birthday with the store? I love the store stories because it lets us into so much of your youth...and adult life. Very, very good lessons here that are applicable online and off.
I love this, Martin. Your dad sounds like he was a really smart and thoughtful man. Hmmm... like you! This makes me wonder what my son might be observing about me and how I run my business. These are really excellent points that apply to any industry. Thank you for sharing this!
Thanks so much @Dana Hughens! A double thank you since your post got me thinking about it. It's amazing what we absorb from our Dads. For you, it sounds you started your agency because of your Dad's approach to life and work. And, of course, my Dad's fifth bit of advice from can be found in the comment I first left on your blog.
What a lovely tribute Martin. Your dad sounds like a great businessman from the old school. I love point #3. I hate being accosted the minute I walk into a store and as you pointed out, it usually has the opposite effect for me. I want to leave immediately. Your dad was right to focus on "the conversation". I think he would have done well in the social media world.
Such an excellent post, and a lovely tribute to your dad. I especially love the "may I help you" advice. I don't know why salespeople ask this question as you immediately enter the store. So off-putting, so untimely. Far better to let someone browse and linger. Be aware of when it's time to engage. I also agree that even when customers are wrong, our goal is to solve their problem to the best of our ability. Cheers! Kaarina
Thanks so much @KDillabough! It's one from the heart. You know, it's only when you look back that you realize how much your parents taught you - by what they said and what they did. The funny thing is I was at a store today and the clerk said - may I help you and I replied with that same cliched response and left shortly after that...