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Better for your business: Having a culture or a strategy to win?

By Napoleon Tetreault

NapoleonTetreaultBlogIn August I asked you about your culture for change in my previous blog. Now I implore you to look at your culture for winning. Recently, I came across a Harvard Business Review quote that said, “Culture trumps strategy every time.” It made me think back through the years when companies I was involved with had a strategy to win, but not a culture of winning. Or on the other hand, sometimes had a culture of winning, but no real strategy in place. Let us look at both as they apply to our business.

Do you have a culture of winning? Do your employees want to win? Are they competitors in the ultra competitive game of sales? Does it pay to be a winner in your store? In a culture of winning your employees are not spending time on Facebook chasing down statuses, they are coming up with ideas that will help them succeed. When they are on social media sites they are reaching out to customers or honing their own skills through educational webinars, podcasts, etc. When you have a culture of success you are hitting goals, celebrating employees who are meeting those goals and periodically checking in to monitor progress towards achieving those goals.

Do you have a strategy to win? Are there clear, identifiable SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Repeatable, Time sensitive) goals for each department, manager and employee? You have a strategy to win if you are paying your employees to win the sale, you are incentivizing them to sell profitably and you reward daily successes, have weekly and monthly goals and recognize those who achieve them. Is your inventory in the right place at the right time? Are your departments set up to succeed? Do they have the appropriate stock in the right place at the right time? How about the necessary employees required to hit your goals? You must have a strategy or plan to succeed, but you can take it too far and spoil the victory.

For example, let’s say you are set up to be a large volume dealer. Your salespeople are dialed in selling product at a discount and moving inventory. You, as the manager, have decided that you want to increase margin and shore up your inventory. So, you implement a limited discounting policy and reduce your inventory drastically. This in turn affects your salespeople’s ability to get the sale and what they have in stock to sell. Sales go down, but the increase in margin is not able to make up for the profit dollars lost. Your strategy had a negative impact on your ability to win and resulted in lost sales and lower profits.

On the other side, if we have faith in our winners and give the appropriate personnel incentive to reduce inventory or sell profitably, we can achieve our desired goals through our culture of winning. Our good employees are smart and they want to be challenged and given the opportunity to shine. With incentives you can keep that baseline volume but allow the decision to sell more profitably be made closest to the customer by the appropriate sales person. If they make more profit, they are paid more. If not, they are not punished by losing the sale. This ultimately puts the task of winning the sale or bonus on the salesperson by giving them the tools required to win. Newsflash .. winners like to win!

At the end of the day I have to agree that a culture of doing anything (selling, having fun, family, growing business) trumps a strategy every time. It is up to us as leaders of our stores, departments or shifts to take ownership and create that culture.

Napoleon Tetreault is a sales representative with Tucker Rocky, an aftermarket PG&A distributor in the powersports industry. He works with powersports retailers on merchandising, profitability and management of the parts department as well as the education of dealership personnel. His experience includes being the GM of the largest indoor motocross facility in the US, owner/operator of a regional distribution company and current role with Tucker Rocky. He can be reached at:

Email: ntetreault@tuckerrocky.com  

Website: www.trdealer.com  (Consumer: www.powersportrider.com)

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