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Ray Allegrezza

Integrity counts, retailer believes

Ray AllegrezzaRay Allegrezza
Last week, while calling retailers to see how they fared in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I had the opportunity to have a long talk with a successful retailer in the Northeast who has spent decades in the home furnishings business.
     After getting a storm update, we ended up talking about what it takes to be successful in the furniture business.
     When I asked him what was at the top of his list, he immediately mentioned integrity. "If you don't have integrity in every aspect of your business, you have nothing," he said.
     He went on to stress how essential it is to hire leaders who truly exhibit that characteristic. "If your leadership team lacks integrity, it is totally unrealistic to think the rest of your employees will have it, because they often take their cues from the people at the top," he explained.
     Another key criterion for success is having the ability to change when necessary, he said. "Change can be tough because it takes people out of their comfort zone. But if you are unable or unwilling to change, you won't grow," he added.
     "Just as important as knowing when to change is knowing when to give it up," he continued.
     When I asked him what he meant, he said "giving it up" was his term for micromanaging. "In my business, there are people who do certain things better than I do and even though this is my company, I had to learn to give those tasks up for the sake of the business."
     He also stressed the importance of constantly reinvesting in the business. "Money isn't a one way street. You have to always be mindful, even in tough times, of investing back in the business. It may be painful today, but you are investing in your tomorrow."
     Speaking of money, my retail mentor also said, "Pay your bills and pay them on time." "Lastly, if you want to have a successful business, you play the game 24-7," he said. "Your competition is relentless and you have to be even more so in terms of keeping your head in the game if you want to win," he said, adding, "And you better remember that at the end of the day, it is all about the game, not you."
     All good advice from a seasoned and savvy retailer who has weathered his share of storms.

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