Never be satisfied.
I kind of consider my leadership style to be a positive sense of discontent, meaning how could I have done something better yesterday, how could we have done something better yesterday, how could you have done something better yesterday.
I’m a baseball nut. I used to live in Cleveland when they built Jacobs Field. I went to a lot of Indians games and used to watch guys like Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle back when the team was going to the World Series. And if you watched those guys, you noticed how they were so intense every time they went to bat.
I wouldn’t want to pitch to either one of them, even if I could throw 100 miles per hour. They were so intense, it seemed like that at-bat was the only at-bat that mattered. It was like the only at-bat they were going to have their whole life.
They weren’t satisfied going 3-for-4, and that’s how I am. I talk to people about this every day. Going 3-for-4 is good, but what did I do in that fourth at-bat that didn’t get me the hit? That’s why those four words are in our company values: ‘Positive sense of discontent.’
We accomplish that through reminding our team members of the goals and objectives we have talked about. Once you’ve reminded them that this is where we’re at, then you have to review the business. Through the review of the business, you have a chance of making an audible, to switch to a football analogy.
You know, (when) you’re at the line of scrimmage, you have this plan and guess what? You have to change some things up because four guys are stacked in the direction you were going to run.
Do the math.
A lot of success in business comes back to financial planning and doing the math. It’s really simple.
You have to do the math and make sure you’re not chasing down the wrong hallway. If you’ve done the math, you should have a pretty good idea that something is going to be successful based on the projections or your experience.
You have to look at the math and layer the actual against the budget projections. If it matches, great, but if it didn’t, you need to find out why not, and you’d better stop before you continue on. Failure really comes down to a lack of financial planning in lot of cases.
Secondly, the decisions you make on the front end are important. When you look at some mall-based retailers, their strategies, they put stores out there and then they’re stuck.
And when things change in the retail world, they were already in their buildings, and they couldn’t reverse the trend, which was really going away from malls. They couldn’t respond to it.
That’s a reason why we believe in a lot of free-standing stores and endcap stores in shopping centers so that we are prominent and visible to our customers and make it easier for him or her to find us and shop our stores.
We arrived at the conclusion that we wanted free-standing stores and endcaps through mathematics. We look at a map and score our sites based on the location, the population, the drive-by traffic, the co-tenancy. We’re better off with home-product retailers like ourselves than we might be with a grocery store, for example.
All that gets scored, and we look at it and say, ‘Geez, isn’t this really funny. The stores that get an 85 or 90 do the most volume.’
You know the obvious. You know a visible site is better. But when you do the math, you realize that the site that you had an instinct on really is a lot better. Through the math, we find those kinds of sites, and we set out to find only those kinds of sites.
Develop a thick skin.
You have to have a thick skin to succeed in business. There are going to be problems. You have to be flexible and be able to do different things than what you planned on doing.
If you are flexible, it gives you a little bit of calmness. You’re not going to respond too harshly when things come at you, you’re not going to bounce off the wall, you’re not going to have a knee-jerk response.
A CEO can’t afford to knee-jerk. He or she has to stay focused on the key goals they had established to begin with.
Another thing a CEO needs is to be able to focus. I really think people get distracted, either personally or professionally, and they get off their area of focus. And focus is really everything, making sure people are supported to make sure they can accomplish what it is you asked them to do.
In our particular case, we have people who want to sell mattresses and make money and manage a market. I have to give them good stores, so our focus is that we’ve given them good stores, now we want good results from those stores.
If I don’t have the numbers of stores my team needs and the right stores, I can’t ask them for those kinds of results. Giving our people support and making sure the tools are in place for them to accomplish what it is we want them to do is extremely important.
HOW TO REACH: Mattress Firm, www.mattressfirm.com