Jenn Haines: The 6 Words That Define My Business
By Jenn Haines, owner of The Dragon
What's your goal with your business? What's your philosophy? What do you want customers to think and feel about your business—both when they're in it and after they leave?
Find a way to express those things in one simple sentence and you've made a mission statement and a big step toward a more structured and efficient operation.
A mission statement is the guiding principle that determines who we want our customers to be and how we want them to experience the store. It helps give customers a more consistent shopping experience and ultimately create repeat business.
At The Dragon, our mission statement is pretty straightforward: "excellent products and service for everyone."
Sounds simple, right? Should be a no-brainer. Provide excellence. Of course.
But when you break down the statement, it truly defines what we do.
"Excellent products" is intrinsic in my ordering process.
We read product reviews and playtest games. We inspect shipments and make sure everything is in good condition. We remove damaged product from the shelves and either donate it or use it as a demo. I examine sales data on a regular basis to make sure we consistently stock top-sellers.
The bottom line is that excellent product is more likely to sell, and therefore increases your product turnover.
"Excellent service for everyone" informs everything else we do.
We put special emphasis on the "everyone" part. It determines how we lay out the store to make it accessible for all. It determines how the staff dress, what language they use (no profanity, nothing exclusionary), how they greet customers. It determines the sensory elements of the store: cleanliness, brightness, scent, sounds.
It even determines where and how we advertise. For example, we do a lot of advertising in schools, to get not only the kids' attention, but their parents' as well.
When you have a mission statement that clearly articulates what your business is at its core, you can have greater confidence in your staff.
Most of us start out running the operation alone.
A lot of us start with no formal training. And when we get to the point of taking on staff, it's daunting. It can be terrifying to imagine leaving the store in the hands of someone that isn't you. What if they don't treat your customers properly? What if they don't keep the store up to your standards?
With a mission statement in place, you can have greater confidence with the people you are hiring because you will be able to instill the mission into them as part of their training.
Training is easier because you can more effectively explain why you do things the way you do them, and how that relates to the ultimate goal of the business: the mission statement. And you have clear guidelines to terminate staff, should they be unwilling to uphold your mission.
A mission statement is also a framework to standardize your processes.
Once we established our mission statement, we developed a more robust set of ideals, which present the mission statement in a more detailed and clearly executable way. These ideals are the first pages of our staff manual.
With a mission and standardized systems in place, staff are all on the same page, which gives you more time to work on higher level things that only you can do.
Jenn Haines (B.Ed, M.A.) owns The Dragon in Guelph, Ontario. She is a recipient of the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award and the YMCA–YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Business category. She is also a board member of ComicsPro.