Attitude will make or break you in 2009

There is no doubt that ag retailers will face some tough economic times in 2009. Commodity prices are down, no one knows how to sell high priced fertilizer that was bought in July, and retailers hear farmers complain every day.

But what will make all the difference in 2009 is attitude.
Consider this quote from the famous motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar. "It is your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude."

Although retailers can read copious amounts of articles these days about how to survive a recession and how to manage their risk, I propose that attitude will be the main driver in retailers' success this year. Why? Farmers will remember how they are treated in a down-turned economy. What retailers provide farmers when times are bad will stick in their minds for a long time to come.

An economic recession is the time to turn on the charm, impress customers with the business' innovation, flexibility and attitude.

Here are some of the top tips available on how to incorporate a better attitude throughout the business.

  • Don't fake customer focus. Make sure your business lives up to its promises of superior customer service. This proves a company's honesty.
  • Employee attitude will rub off on customers. Remember to smile at customers and treat them as you'd want to be treated. Positive sales people help put the customer in a better state of mind.
  • Refocus on value. Your business must convey the attitude that bringing the customer value is your primary focus. Value doesn't necessarily mean price. Review the attitudes that employees are projecting and set goals for the attitudes you do want to project.
  • Remember to say "no" sometimes. Some customers may ask you to extend them credit even though they previously have not been good at paying on time. You may have to let go or fire some of your customers who put your business in a bind.
  • Remember to be flexible. Every customer is not the same. Each has different needs. Be innovative and patient at finding solutions that work for each customer. This will improve your relationship with them and prove your value as a preferred partner.
  • Do not resist growth. The down-turned economy has caused many people to think in terms of reducing and constricting. It is well known that recessions are good times to grow the business and hunt for new customers.
  • Play to win. Even though the economy is in a recession, do not stop taking risks. Reconsider cutting prices, which may hurt your bottom line and cause more problems in the long run.
  • Expect the unexpected. Volatile markets and wide-ranging risks will keep businesses on their toes in 2009. Although it may not be possible to have a plan in place to address unexpected changes in the market, brainstorm possible scenarios that could threaten the business and scenarios that offer possible solutions. Consider doing a Strengths-Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis.

  • Create an attitude of daily success. Encourage employees to have a successful attitude. Agriculture is not going to go away because of an economic recession. As long as there are people, there will be the need for food. Retailers are experts in their field. That is something to feel proud about. Remind employees that an attitude of success will help create a stronger company that will last for many years.
  • Life is what you make it. In the end, it all comes down to choice. Everyone can change their perceptions and their attitudes. Remember, "You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses," said Ziggy Marley.