Your Retail Success

Breaking bad (habits)

Your Retail Success

Many of our daily decisions are not conscious efforts but rather habits. We don’t even really realize we are doing this. We believe we are objectively looking at each decision we make, when in reality we are doing things based on past behaviour—not an objective analysis of the current situation.

Pay attention

Habits are pre-programmed routines that your brain initiates without thinking. You need to be consciously aware of what you are doing and make the effort to stop. The first step is to pay attention so you can determine those things that need to be changed now. Open your eyes and your mind—be aware of what might be wrong and done only out of habit.

Think about what you want to accomplish

Look around and ask yourself why your business does certain things. Is each action based on today’s marketplace, or is it being done because of something in the past? Are you opening and closing at certain hours due to the needs of the business or out of habit? Is the store layout optimal, or is it that way due to habit? Are certain products and services being provided today due to target market needs—or habit?

Walk around and look at each decision with a “breaking bad” mindset. You’ll be surprised at how much is still being done based on habit.

Beware of habit becoming default

It’s the go-to response your brain is automatically wired to initiate. Most times, you don’t even realize you have behaved a certain way because of this default. You’ll need to kick-start yourself to reprogram your internal company defaults.

Look for efficiencies and synergies

Once you’ve gotten out of default mode, look around and see what can be improved that will result in wins for your business. This could be standardizing process steps, improving software usage, maximizing analytics, or streamlining purchasing procedures. The opportunities are endless once you realize that many things are done subconsciously based on past behaviour. Break the continuous response to the formed habit.

Watch for “habit creep”

Once you make the changes in outlook, processes, and procedures, you need to be vigilant and ensure over time that the new way continues. Bad habits die hard, so be aware that they can creep back. It takes discipline and oversight to ensure that your business doesn’t go back to the default of the past. You and your team won’t even realize it has happened because going back to the habit just seemed natural at the time.

Force yourself to evaluate and review any changes into the future. Don’t get complacent or think that change will happen automatically once it is implemented. Bad habits can creep back in without anyone really realizing it happened.

Start today

If you really want to effect change in your life, you should do it now. Don’t procrastinate, thinking you’ll wait until New Year’s to make breaking bad business habits a resolution. Start today and don’t look back.

Rick Kroetsch is the vice-president and associate publisher of Alive Publishing Group.