Dear M & M: Is the retail storefront model dead? — Dawn

Dear Dawn: It’s time to change, or if you are engaged in this main street model, you might not last unless you are creating real value to consumers and your employees. What new experience do you bring to your customers to make them want to engage with you? Probably your most important asset is the people you are calling employees. What are you doing to energize them? Do you have any training programs in place?

Invest time and money in people that are truly engaged in service standards that will create value to your organization. Take a serious look at your compensation practices. Are you getting what you are paying for? Can you pay good people what they are worth? Can you pay more to your employees and still survive? Do your employees really want to be there and do they enjoy coming to work every day?

Take a step back. Talk to the people that work for you. Are they happy? They might have some ideas on what they need and I’ll bet they have plenty of thoughts on what the customer wants and isn’t getting. Serious efforts need to be considered to implement a digital selling opportunity in addition to any in store shopping experience just to cover the competing forces online shopping are creating. Retail isn’t completely dead. Unless the retailer isn’t willing, ready and able to change to provide what people really want, put a fork in it.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.