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I’m Looking For Work

Since closing up Toy House last December I have been writing, speaking, coaching, sailing, selling, and singing for my supper. It has been an interesting adjustment from the steady paycheck of selling toys. It has been filled with highs and lows and stimulating conversations when people ask me how I’m enjoying “retirement.” I’m a few decades away from that word. I need to work.

The past few days I have thrown my hat into the ring for some full-time job openings in southern Michigan.

Yes, I am looking for work. 

This is me. Always smiling. Always ready to help.

Here is my resume: (Please excuse my bragging—that’s what resumes are for, right?)

27 years as a Team Builder: Developed, Organized and Led Team Building Activities utilizing Low and High Ropes Courses, Wilderness & Experiential Activities, and designated tasks to promote better communication, cooperation and trust for groups ranging from adolescents to corporate America. Led and Facilitated Training Programs to teach others to be Team Builders. Wrote and published blogs and articles on Team Building.

24 years as a Purchasing Agent: Created and Managed Open-to-Buy programs for multi-million dollar retail store. Negotiated Terms with Vendors. Made Purchasing Decisions for millions of dollars of inventory. Designed Merchandising Displays including Revamping 16,000 square feet of display space. Led Workshops, Seminars and Webinars on Inventory Management, Pricing, and Financials,

22 years as a Marketing & Advertising Director: Developed and Managed Advertising Budgets between $20,000 and $120,000 annually. Made Advertising Purchases and Created Content for TV, Radio, Newsprint, Billboard, Direct Mail, Email, Facebook, In-Store Signage, Business Flyers, and Press Releases. Conceived, Organized and Hosted several public and private Marketing Events. Made Public Appearances at Networking Events, on Radio, and TV. Built websites for www.ToyHouseOnline.com and www.PhilsForum.com (among others). Led Workshops, Seminars and Webinars on Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations. Wrote book on Advertising called Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t).

21 years as an HR Director: Hired, Trained, Scheduled and Managed a team of 12 to 30 employees. Created an Employment Manual and Training Program. Planned, Organized and Led monthly Staff Trainings and Meetings. Led Workshops, Seminars and Webinars on Hiring & Training and Customer Service. Wrote and Published a Book on Hiring and Training called Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art. 

27 years as a Speaker/Teacher: I have given over 100 seminars to other businesses, led over 100 training workshops for staff development, facilitated over 100 team building events, conducted over 100 presentations on shopping to customers, and taught over 100 classes for new, expectant fathers at our local hospital.

9 years as a Writer: I have written four books, dozens of magazine articles, hundreds of different advertising content, and 788 blog posts (counting this one.)

I am looking for work.

You can hire me to do Private Coaching, one-on-one, in the area you need the most help. (For a lot of people that has been hiring and training.)

You can hire me to do Presentations and Workshops. My Customer Service presentation takes a unique approach by helping you define each point of contact a customer has with your business and measures your performance at every step along the way. Like my Hiring & Training presentation, this works with any type or size of business. In fact, it was a manufacturer who paid me the highest compliment telling me I had given him the “million-dollar idea” he needed to take his business to the next level (as he flew away on his private jet.)

You can hire me to help you revamp your Marketing & Advertising. Whether temporary as a coach/consultant and/or to help you create new content, or full-time as a Manager or Director, I will bring insights and skills that will move the needle for your business.

You can hire me to Write. My specialty in writing is to teach and persuade. I’m sure you can figure out how to use that in your business.

I’m not a perfect candidate. Most people look at my resume and get hung up on the fact I have Bachelor of Science in Geological Oceanography from the University of Michigan. That was 28 years ago. I barely remember that child (but I still know more about shoreline erosion than anyone really needs to know.)

Or they want to discount the above experiences because I didn’t do it in corporate America. I can see that. Of course, I did all those jobs simultaneously (plus twelve years as CEO and CFO) for a store that in 2009 was named “One of the 25 best independent stores in America!” in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin. That’s not corporate America, but it does speak to my ability to learn and my ability to stay organized and focused while juggling a lot of responsibilities in a fast-paced environment.

I’d be happy to discuss these and any other reservations during the interview.

I am looking for work. Do you know anyone who can use a guy like me?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I apologize if this post sounds too much like bragging. I really do need more work. I want you to know I’m not just a blogger who thinks he knows something about business. I have walked the walk. I have made many mistakes and learned from them. I don’t have the business degree, but I did have the toughest teacher ever—real life! You get the exam first and then you get the lesson. Please share this post with anyone you know who could use a guy like me.

PPS You know my Core Values are Having Fun, Helping Others, Education and Nostalgia. My ideal job is teaching and helping others. It is what I do best and I enjoy it thoroughly. My second passion is marketing & advertising, finding new ways to drive traffic. That and Free Cell are my two favorite puzzles to solve. If the right opportunity comes along, however, I’m game for just about anything that lines up with my values.

Is it a Business or Just a Job?

I work with a lot of smaller retailers – start-ups and indies who are just getting going in this crazy industry we’ve all chosen. Many of them get this one question wrong.

Did you start a business or just create a job?

Most people think they are starting a business, but in reality all they have done is create a job for themselves, often a low-paying job at that. Then when they go to sell the business, they can’t find any buyers.

Here are three questions you need to ask yourself to see whether your retail shop is truly a business or just a job.

Could the business run without you? More specifically, could you hire someone to do your job, or is the whole reason the business exists because you exist?

Do people come to your business because of what you offer or what your business offers? If the vast majority come because of you, you might have a job, not a business.

Do you pay yourself a salary? If you don’t then it isn’t even a job, it’s a hobby. If you do pay yourself a salary, is it a good one? Is it enough to hire someone else to do that job? If you said no, then you might have a job, not a business.

Do you show a profit? If you’re paying yourself a salary, that is a good thing. It means that you could potentially hire someone else to do that job, while you reap the profits – assuming there are some profits. Some owners will make the correct move of paying themselves a salary, but do so at the expense of showing a profit. Some will keep profits low on purpose to avoid taxes. There might be a number of reasons for not showing a profit. Amazon doesn’t seem to need to show a profit. As long as the cash keeps flowing they (and you) can usually keep doing your job. But an indie retailer without profits probably won’t be able to sustain that cash flow for too long. You and I don’t have the deep pocket investors Amazon has. If you’re paying yourself a salary in lieu of showing a profit, you might have a job, not a business.

Not that there is anything wrong with having a job, not a business. You can make a healthy living for many years that way. You might like the job of being boss (and you might be really good at it). You might like the salary you pay yourself for being boss in lieu of having your business show a profit. Those are good and valid points for you to keep doing what you do.

The only downside will be the exit strategy. Once you decide you no longer want your job, if you didn’t first turn it into a business, you’re going to have a hard time finding anyone who wants to buy it. No one “buys” jobs. They buy businesses. Without a business, all you have left to sell are your assets.

Neither concept is wrong, but not knowing the difference can be costly down the road.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS If you want to turn your job into a business, you need to think about three things.

  1. Could I hire and train someone to do my job?
  2. Do I pay well enough to hire someone competent to do my job?
  3. Is there enough profit and/or growth potential to keep the business making money?
When you can answer yes to all three, you have a business, not a job. You have something you could sell down the road. You are truly an entrepreneur. Heck, you could should hire someone to do your job right now and go start another business or two.

An Article You Should Read

I just finished reading a fascinating study done by Forbes on Middle Market Companies (click here to get the study – yes, you need to give your email to them, their rules, not mine.)

In spite of the economy, middle market companies are growing and they are creating jobs.

One telling statistic was when they were asked…

What do you think have been the most critical factors contributing to your organization’s successful growth?

The runaway number one answer was… “Focus on Customer Experience”.  Pricing was way down at tenth on that same list.

And when asked where they were focusing their resources, once again Customer Service was the number one answer.

What do these companies know that you don’t?

Oh yeah… nothing.

Want to grow your business?  Focus your resources on Customer Service.  Find ways to make a better Customer Experience.  Works great in a down economy.  Works just as great when the economy is rocking, too.  Just sayin’.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS  For a start on how to make your Customer Experience better, download my FREE eBook Customer Service: From Weak to WOW!  You will learn changes you can make today that won’t cost you a dime (but will start earning you many more dimes!)

Signs Sell

Rick Segal has said that proper signage will help an item sell up to 50% more than without a sign. Here’s why…

First, there is this group of people known as Introverts.
About half of your customers identify as Introverts. They tend to think to talk instead of talk to think as Extraverts would do. If they don’t know an answer, they’ll look first for a sign that might give them an answer before asking an associate because asking an associate puts them in an uncomfortable position.

Therefore, to make your Introverted customers feel more comfortable in your store, thus more likely to buy, give them signs that answer their basic questions and help them feel more knowledgeable. (Note: although I cannot prove it, I would be willing to bet that introverts make up a larger portion of online shoppers than extraverts.)

The second group that relies on signs is Men.
Yep, the guys shopping your store are far more likely to read signs than your women customers. Paco Underhill points this out from his own research in the book, Why We Buy (if you haven’t read it, it is a MUST for retailers!).

According to Deborah Tannen, men speak vertically and women speak horizontally. When men talk they are thinking in their minds, “Did what I say make you think higher of me or lower of me?” Vertical. That is why we are so afraid of asking for directions. The three hardest words for men to say are not, “I love you.” They are, “I don’t know,” because it makes you think lower of me.

No sign? No Sale.
When a man enters a store, the first thing he looks for is some sign telling him where to go. If he has a question, he’s going to look for another sign to answer that question. No sign? No sale. Some guys will actually walk away before asking for help. My wife knows this all too well. If I come home from a store empty-handed the first thing she says is, “Did you ask someone?” (No, I probably didn’t, although I’m getting better at it.)

Women, on the other hand, are thinking, “Did what I say draw me in closer or push me away?” Horizontal. They are quick to ask for directions because it brings them into the inner circle. You can put up all the signs you want but only the more introverted women will spend time reading them. They’d rather interact with someone.

50% of all the women and 100% of all the men (give or take a point or two) are looking for a sign. Are you going to give them what they want or let your competitors give it to them?

Rick is right on this one. Signs do sell!


Shop Local, Create Jobs

A new study in Grand Rapids confirms what the JXN Local First campaign has been saying. Shop local and you will CREATE JOBS.

According to Civic Economics, an economic research firm, just a 10% shift in shopping from national chains to local businesses would create 1600 jobs in Grand Rapids and an economic impact of $137 million. (see the whole story at http://www.retailers.com/news/retailers/08oct/mr1008shoplocally.html)

Often, I hear the complaint, “but Phil, shopping local is expensive.”

Let’s look at it another way.

If shifting your dollars from big chains to local stores creates jobs, then the opposite must be true. The more you spend at the national chains, the more jobs are lost. Now that would be expensive. (More unemployment, more welfare, more tax dollars used up, etc., etc.)

There is a high price to low cost – it’s called jobs. Your friends’ jobs, your family’s jobs, maybe even your own job.

Yet, by shopping local just one more time out of the next ten times you shop can make a significant impact on your local economy. If it can create 1600 jobs for Grand Rapids, what would it do for Jackson, or wherever you live?

Will it be more expensive? Maybe not. Many people tell me we are quite comparably priced on many items. I find the same is true with some of the other local businesses where I shop. More importantly, I find more unique items that make the gifts I give more special.

And as my previous post mentions, it isn’t about price – it’s about value.

Think about it next time you’re in the market for something. Give your local store a try and we’ll see if we can change this economy on our own. (For a list of JXN Local First members – go to http://www.jxnlocalfirst.com/)