How to Build Better Connections in 2021

How to Build Better Connections in 2021

January 26, 2021 | 3 min to read

Kelly Ackerman knows a thing or two about weathering a storm when it comes to owning and operating a business. He’s been a co-owner of Face to Face Games.com in Toronto for more than six years and helped the store reach WPN Premium in May of 2019—soon after the program started.

Today, he answers questions about one of the most important aspects of business success: building the connections that strengthen your community.

What did you and your team focus on in 2020 to stay resilient?

More people communicating and more people connecting through gaming is really what our focus should be on, not worrying about whether our existing customers are shopping at this store or the other store. I like to say, "Don't fight over the pie. Let's just bake more pies."

There are five fingers of business, and we need to have strong connections in each of these fingers to build a good, solid foundation. And these really are in order—each one is important, but they're all important proportionally to each other: customers, staff, suppliers, communities, and shareholders.

Connection really is everything, and there's nothing stopping us from building those connections now.

Let's start with customers. Can you share your advice for keeping them engaged, especially remotely?

I want to drive that point home that there's more to your customers than the financials. And that a healthy relationship, a healthy connection with those customers will pay for itself. Bring your customers into the fold.

When they feel like they are part of something more than themselves, that's when they really become your allies. The more you're able to have positive interactions with your customers, the better off your business is going to be.

Your second “finger” is staff. What’s the number one thing rallying your team at Face to Face Games.com?

I think the universal truth is that there needs to be respect in the workplace. Respect can look really different for different people. For me, to respect your coworkers, you need to challenge them. Don't settle for mediocrity within yourself or within others.

There's so much room for each of us to grow and try something new. Don't get stuck in a rut of doing what you've always done. Especially through this last 8 to 10 months, we've all had so many shakeups that there’s never been a better time to try something new and really break out.

Why is nurturing a connection to suppliers so important, particularly now?

A lot of the time our suppliers are our customers—we get a lot of our singles inventory from buying it from our customers. We need to wonder, "if our customers are our suppliers, what does that mean?"

This is especially important for game stores because there are a lot of products that most of our wholesalers sell, and some of them are really, really exciting. Having a strong relationship with your suppliers means that you’ll know about allocations when limited print-run products come around.

It's really important to not get caught up thinking about what your business is going to do for you today and focus instead on how you can make sure your business is still working for you in 20 years.

As a retailer, how does community come into play for you as you look ahead into 2021?

It creates word of mouth, and that's the number one thing that is going to drive any business. We all have a story as to how we came to start playing Magic or D&D—the same thing happens in our communities with our customers—being good to them just accelerates that.

When you contribute to your community, it just feels good because it's the right thing to do.

For a lot of small business owners like you, the primary shareholder is just you. So how do you keep yourself in-tune and motivated?

It's really important to not get caught up thinking about what your business is going to do for you today and focus instead on how you can make sure your business is still working for you in 20 years.

If you look at those five fingers, taking care of the first four in order means that you'll have enough left at the end to take care of the shareholder.

What's the main takeaway about making these connections that you want other retailers to know?

The human connection element of what we do is so powerful, and I truly believe that gaming brings the world together. Find ways to highlight that. It's been a lemon of a year, but connection really is everything, and there's nothing stopping us from building those connections now.

Start building those connections with your customers today—sign up for EventLink today to start hosting online events and keep your community connected.

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