What could have saved Toys R Us…and how can you keep your business from that same fate?

What could have saved Toys R Us…and how can you keep your business from that same fate?

Toys R Us may have been one of the first truly successfully niche stores.  I remember standing in line to buy the latest Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo when that was THE place to get toys.  I stalked them the way I now stalk presale codes for popular concerts.  Everyone wanted, dare I say needed to be a Toys R Us kid.  Toys R Us represented play to an entire generation, so what happened???

The answer is easy, they refused to change.  They wanted to remain a brick and mortar in a time when the world wide web was taking over everything.  They wanted to just sell products  when unique experiences were dominating the consumer purchase decision.  They were an oak tree when they needed to be a willow.  You may be asking how we switched to talking about trees.  Well, oak trees are known for their strength and ability to stand fast, but they are inflexible and if a strong enough force comes through (Amazon, Escape Games, kids cooking and painting classes), they will fall.  A willow tree, on the other hand, is also strong but in a different way.  It bends and sways so when a strong force comes through it is likely to lean into it and bend without breaking.  That’s what Toys R Us needed to do, and that’s what your business needs to do.

In this day and age, we see a lot of disruptors – businesses that seem to come out of no where and change the game.  They’re your Amazons and Ubers and to some extent Southwest Airlines.  They literally disrupt the way consumers do things and become the new platinum standard (or should I say Vibranium standard for the few million people who saw Black Panther).  Established businesses can survive a disruptor if they are nimble and react quickly enough to the new normal.  That’s what Toys R Us didn’t do.  They continued down the path of shoppers coming in the store instead of being able to buy online.  They didn’t create an extension of the buying experience online, so customers still felt that was the only place to go for toys.

Unfortunately, while relying on their in store experience, they chose not to revolutionize that either.  Thanks largely to the internet and the evolution of social media, kids are used to immediate gratification and constant entertainment.  They watch YouTube videos and then want to make slime or fly a drone.  Toys R Us could have created instore demonstrations and become the place parents brought their kids to have a hands-on experience with all the latest fads then bought all the materials in the store to continue the fun at home.

As a parent, if I’m going to get up, go to a store, hunt for parking and deal with crowds instead of buying online, a store must make it worth my time.  That typically means have really great prices or a tremendous experience that makes the extra effort worth it.  So, what are you doing in your business to keep up with the latest trends in your industry?

Are you a realtor and if so how do you capitalize on the fact that buyers have seen homes online long before they walk into them?  Are you a marketing and PR company and if so how do you make sure your products are talked about by the social media influencers of the day, or better yet, turn your brand into an influencer?  People don’t watch commercials the way they use to so what new and creative way are you reaching your customers?

Creativity and innovation use to provide a slight advantage, now they are the only path to long term success.  What are you doing to insure they live and breath in every decision your team makes?  How are you going to innovate your company into the next craze that leads to long term success?

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

 

 

No, no, no…I insist you should only pay me 64% of the position’s salary

No, no, no…I insist you should only pay me 64% of the position’s salary

Massachusetts has given us such treasures as New England Clam Chowder, the Red Sox, Boston cream pie and now they are the first state in this nation to truly do something about the pay gap that exists with so many private companies. Massachusetts is the first state to ban employers, both public and private, from asking for salary history during the recruiting and job offer process.  How does that affect the pay gap you ask?  It’s simple, when a person’s future salary is based, in part, on their past salary and their past salary was lower because they were a woman or a minority or a certain age, their future salary will remain lower than people in other groups and the gap, over time, only widens.  Playing the truly exhausting game of “salary catch up” becomes a futile task.

This may leave some people asking, “if we don’t know a person’s past salary how do we know what they expect to make now?”  Well here’s a novel idea, we should pay what the position is worth regardless of that individual’s salary has been in the past.  I’ve never heard a company say “since I’m only paying you 64% of what your white male counterpart makes I only expect 64% of the work.”  (as a black woman that is statistically what I make in comparison to my white male counterparts).

How does that play out if someone has less experience than someone else?  Again, I ask the question, do you lower the expectations once they are in the role?  If not, they should receive the same compensation.  Does that mean every person should make the exact same salary, not necessarily, there will always be differences in roles, expectations and abilities that should be factored in but if two people have the same title, are held accountable for the same outputs and judged against the same ruler why would one make 30-40% more than the other???

Many may be asking, “how did the pay gap come into existence, isn’t it common sense that people doing the same job should make the same money?”  Sadly, it isn’t…or at least historically it hasn’t been.  In the past, many companies used the “person” method of determining compensation meaning they paid the person what they felt that person needed instead of what the job was worth.  You heard comments like, “he’s probably the bread winner for his family so he needs extra income” or “she should be lucky she works here, if it weren’t for affirmative action we wouldn’t hire her” or my personal favorite, “she’s only working until she starts a family, it’s not like she really wants a career”.

Today you don’t hear those comments (I hope anyway) but some of those attitudes prevail.  More importantly, because they were so common in the past and many companies used a person’s past salary to help set their current salary it became a never-ending cycle of pay inequities that widened over the years to what we now see.

Speaking of that, what do we see now?  With  all of the legislation and education, isn’t the problem going away on its own…NO.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, on average, Hispanic Women earned only 54% of what a White Man earned FOR THE EXACT SAME JOB.  The chart below gives statistics for additional groups.

White Men Black Men Hispanic Men White Women Black Women Hispanic Women
100% 75.1% 67.2% 78% 64% 54%

 

Once inequities like that have been established, the only way to break them is to stop relaying on past salaries and pay everyone for the job they are doing, not the demographic box they check.

Thank you Massachusetts for one of my favorite basketball teams, thank you for fine institutions of higher learning and most of all THANK YOU for starting to solve an epidemic in our country!  I hope we see the rest of the country follow in your footsteps and stop asking people about the past when determining their future!

 

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

 

Is your Mission Statement worth the paper it’s written on?

Is your Mission Statement worth the paper it’s written on?

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard about the United Airlines situation that occurred on Sunday, April 9, 2017.  In case you missed it let me quickly summarize the situation, United Airlines, like many airlines, oversold a flight.  They, like most airlines, asked for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for taking a later flight and some sort of financial consideration (likely a credit with United to use later).  No one volunteered, now here is where the situation departs the normal course of events, instead of increasing their financial offer they elected to make 4 passengers give up their seat.  This practice is legal but rarely used.  The more common approach (and more customer friendly approach) is to increase the financial offer until you get volunteers.

After 2 passengers begrudgingly gave up their seats, United approached the third passenger and he refused.  Their answer was to drag him from the plane kicking and screaming…literally!  The passenger was injured in the process and the witnesses, other United customers, were very upset and lobbied on that passenger’s behalf.

Aside from the physical harm, flight delay and humiliation United Airlines caused, I looked at it from a purely business standpoint.  I evaluated this action against the mission statement of United Airlines.  United, like all businesses, exist to make money, I have no issue with that but their mission statement tells us how they have chosen to make their money.  The first line of their customer commitment is, “We are committed to providing a level of service to our customers that makes us a leader in the airline industry.”  I don’t work for United but I’m sure dragging a customer down the aisle who did not pose a threat to himself or other passengers goes against that notion.

But let’s look at it from another standpoint.  That same weekend Delta Airlines paid one family $11,000 to give up their seats on several oversold flights.  $11,000, obviously that puts the customer first and provides great customer service (a part of their mission) but that can’t be fiscally prudent, can it?  Well yes, it actually is!  How you ask, because $11,000 is less than $800,000!!!  Why is $800,000 a significant number?  That’s the amount of value United Airlines stock has lost less than 24 hours after the release tape of the passenger being dragged down the aisle was released.

So let’s review:

  • United didn’t provide, “…a level of service to our customers that makes us a leader…”

  • They lost over $800,000 (that amount doesn’t include the yet to be determined amount they will undoubtedly have to pay in damages to the passenger)

  • They will surely experience a decline in ticket purchases

In short United failed at achieving their financial goals and mission statement success.  All of this could have been avoided if they did one simple thing…align their culture and actions to their mission statement.  In my earlier blog on the importance of mission statements I wrote, Excellent organizations are full of employees who not only know the company’s mission statement, but incorporate it into their daily professional lives.”   United airlines did the work to come up with a comprehensive statement of values.  They added it to their web-site and probably talked about it in all employee meetings but they missed what many organizations miss, they didn’t live it.  They didn’t reward employees for abiding by it.  They didn’t insist that employees do what they said they were going to do.

What’s the lesson here?  How can your company avoid a United Airlines level debacle?  LIVE YOUR MISSION!  Help your employees make the best decision for the long term good or your organization.  Profits will always matter but company reputation drives profits, customer opinion drives profits, public perception drives profits.  In the age of social media, perception is reality and those perceptions are formed at the speed of the internet.

What is your company’s mission statement?  Do you know it and if so do you consider that mission when you are making decisions that affect the business?  More importantly, do your employees know it and consider it when making decisions?  If you answered no to either of those questions then you may be setting yourself up for a similar fate.  Luckily, for you, it’s not too late.  Make sure your culture and decisions support your mission statement.  Make sure your employees consider the long-term effect of their short-term actions.  Make sure you aren’t the next company who is dragging your customers kicking and screaming and losing money every step of the way!

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

Oops, I did it again…how to turn your mistakes into a great thing for you and  your organization.

Oops, I did it again…how to turn your mistakes into a great thing for you and your organization.

As a child the one thing I never wanted to do was disappoint anyone. I was the kid who only required a look from Mama to let me know I needed to stop what I was doing and make a different choice. I, like many people, felt that making a mistake was a bad thing, then a wonderful thing happened, I messed up. Not a small oops but what I thought was a catastrophic, world ending, no one will ever speak to me again mistake and you know what happened…very little. The world still spun around, my family still loved me and my career (at that time as a student) continued.

Fast forward a few years and I still hate to make a mistake but I have completely changed my frame of thinking. I learned one truth…If no one dies it can be fixed.   Fixing doesn’t mean un-doing, forgetting it ever happened or  even mean that you won’t have to deal with the consequences of making a mistake but it does mean we are typically able to recover (and often move ahead) from a mistake. These three steps can help you turn a mistake into an opportunity and recover with grace, style and your positive reputation intact.

1.     Be honest – There is a natural tendency to want to cover up mistakes but what message does that send your supervisors, co-workers and customers?  That gives them license to question both your ability and integrity. On the flip side, when you own up to the mistake as soon as possible you show that not only did you catch the problem before they had a chance to bring it to your attention but you were honest enough to let them know so it didn’t cause any further harm. People don’t expect perfection but they do expect accountability.

I once sent an email to a potential employer and I wrote, “My goals is…” Unfortunately, like so many others, I seem to be a better proofreader after I hit send on an email. I was horrified but needed to recover. I sent a follow up email that said, “My apologies to the readers and my 2nd grade grammar teacher. An extra S just jumped on the page and insisted on joining the party…” There was a chance they would have read that sentence and not noticed my mistake but that was a chance I wasn’t willing to take. By owning up to it I had a chance to show I did in fact have a grasp of English and it made them laugh. More importantly they knew that I was a person who took responsibilities for my actions. Negative into positive!

2.     Offer Solution – Saying you made a mistake is step 1 but correcting it is an even bigger step. As soon as you realize a mistake has been made think of a way to minimize its affect.  Offer to stay late to redo the project. Send a revised report to your boss. Draft an apology to your customer offering to fix the problem and an additional token of your company’s appreciation. Making a mistake can be bad but pawning your mistake off on someone else to fix is infinitely worse! Noticing a mistake before someone else does and coming up with a great solution proves that you are resourceful, attentive and diligent. Negative to positive!

3.     Make regular deposits into your reputation account – People forgive people that have proven themselves to be competent and capable. People remember the good over the bad when they believe that person always makes a genuine effort to do the best they can. The key to being “allowed” to make a mistake is to do it as infrequently as possible. Innovation and creativity are always great but when you prove to your employer and customers that you know when to take risks and when to play it safe they will trust your instincts and forgive your mis-steps.

Mistakes happen, they always have and always will. A big part of business (and life) is taking limited information and making our best-informed decision. Ideally, we would always get it right the first time but in reality we won’t, so having a recovery plan is essential. Don’t be afraid to act out of fear of making a mistake and don’t let a mistake define you or your career! Remember, there are very few mistakes that can’t be covered and corrected by paint, cheese or humor! Share some of your professional mistakes and recoveries with us. What did you learn and how did you make a potentially negative situation positive?

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!