Baby Lock Tech is Tacony Corporation’s largest annual dealer event.  Several hundred of the best sewing machine retailers from all across the country attend to see new items, meet their fellow dealers, and to attend presentations to learn the latest sewing techniques and ways to improve their businesses.  This year’s event took place over the last four days here in St. Louis.

While we do our very best to provide our business partners with the latest and best information, we learn a lot from them, too.  Over the next few days, I’m going to share some of the things that I learned from our dealers.  Please keep this in mind.  With some exceptions, retailing is retailing.  What works for a sewing machine retailer will work just as well for any other merchant.  One of the values of working with a diversified company like Tacony Corporation is that we can be a conduit to pass valuable information from one of our industries to another.

Ron Gattinella operates Close to Home, a four-store chain located in New England.  He gave a presentation at Baby Lock Tech on family businesses.  We’ll have more on that later, but for today we wanted to share an interesting analogy that Ron used in discussing teamwork. 

As a former coach, he knows quite a bit about soccer. As he points out, soccer is a very different game from baseball, or football (the American kind), or basketball.  In those sports, someone is constantly telling the players what to do or where to go.  The players build their skills in practice but the manager or coach drives the strategy while the game is being played.

Soccer is different.  The game rarely stops.  The field is very large.  While you see a lot of coaches yelling from the sidelines, the flow of the game is basically up to the players.  If you watch an international match on television you’ll notice that the manager is located well away from the field.  The laws of the game actually prohibit coaching from the sidelines.

There are players who can shoot; players who can pass; players who can defend; and one goalkeeper who’s the last line of defense.  A team of eleven goal scorers would be in a lot of trouble.  No good coach would ever put his best shooter on defense or his best play maker in goal.

The soccer coach’s job is to recognize each player’s abilities and put him or her in the right position.  In practice the team works on those basic skills and on game strategy.  It’s at practice that the real coaching happens.  Eleven good players, each playing a position that utilizes his/her best skills and with a good knowledge of the flow of the game is going to win a lot of games.

Hopefully you see where Ron’s going with this.  The same qualities that make a good soccer team make a good retail team.  Just like a soccer coach, a good retail manager recognizes his people’s skills and puts them in a position that uses those skills to their best advantage.  He works with each player to develop their talents before they get into the game.  When the customer comes into the store, when the game is on, that’s when skill and training show themselves.  We all learn from our experience, but we have to be prepared to play the game.

Here’s an interesting quote:

"When a group of individuals becomes a ‘we’, a harmonious whole, then the highest is reached that humans as creatures can reach.

Come back tomorrow to find out who said it.

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