I LOVE early January and the chance to review the past year and plan for the next. Right now, on our first Office Tuesday of the year, I’ve got the paper easel up and we’re looking at all parts of the business.
I created my “10 Steps to Help you Reflect on Your Year and Prepare for the Next” year-end-review as a way to very organically look at the parts of the business — where my clients came from, customer care, professional alliances, money coming in and money going out, and more — and see what I can glean from the facts and figures of the year.
I’m interested in looking at the successes of the year but I’m also interested in reflecting on the disappointments. Step 9 is where I acknowledge that not everything was fun or easy.
I did something this year that was really hard for me to do. I must have mulled over it for weeks, talked to people outside of my profession to get advice about how to handle it, and then put off handling it for a few more weeks. It had to do with a professional relationship with a sales associate in a store that I spend a fair amount of time in. While I’d worked with her for years and was happy to bring my business to her, it was not feeling like a win/win anymore. While she was getting the sales commission and notoriety for being a top seller, I was getting less and less of her focused attention. It wasn’t anything my client saw but I sure felt it.
As part of a style and wardrobe consulting service, you’re in the stores a lot with clients. Spring, summer, fall, and winter–there are always things our clients need for their wardrobes. Like you, I want to find sales associates who will provide an easy environment for my client and myself during the hours we’re shopping in a store. While I don’t receive any credit or incentive for the sales I bring to a store, I really appreciate when a sales associate makes my job easier and makes my client feel at ease in every part of the shopping day.
One day I worked with a different sales associate and had an amazing experience. She had seen me working with clients in the store and loved the opportunity to work with me that day. She seemed to instinctively understand how to be discreet. She matched my professional attitude and let me be 100% focused on the client. She only interjected ideas when she and I were outside of the dressing room. She stayed focused on the checkout process and made it smoother than it had ever been.
The experience was so enjoyable and easy. Besides being great with my client and myself, she has great style, a background in dressmaking and a love of fashion history.
Moving forward I knew it was time to have a conversation with the person I’d been working with for years.
It was hard. In some ways it felt like a breakup. She promised to change, I said I wanted to play the field. In the end I suggested we just take a break and review in a few weeks. I wished her the best and I hope she had another top-selling year.
I don’t know if this kind of situation would have felt disappointing to you. I’m a very loyal person so it was hard for me to realize someone else would better serve my needs and then make the adjustment. I definitely had to wear my CEO hat and do what would make the whole shopping experience better.
When I created this 10 step process a few years ago and included this step, I wanted a place for a consultant to admit to the hurtful parts, to say, “You know, these couple of things in my year were hard, sad, not fun, awkward, more difficult than I thought.”
Did you have some of those? Care to share?
P.S. If you’re interested in using this system to work through your 2014 and help you plan your 2015, here’s how you can access it. I’m also planning a conference call for consultants to share their results.