When we say that we got a little carried away this Mastermind call, we mean it! An hour wasn’t enough time to talk about everything we discussed in the Marketing call! We were all so invested in the call that we lost track of time. The same can be said for the GM Mastermind. Let’s get to the shared insights!

man grabbing a tool from a shelf

Key Takeaways

These Masterminds only get better with such experienced attendees sharing years of wisdom! As the saying goes, as the saying goes, a rising tide raises the ticket average. Thank you to all who showed up and participated.

Marketing Mastermind Takeaways:

During our Marketing Mastermind, we discussed social media strategy, quantifying ROI for organic social media (especially related to events), the power of email marketing (in Acenet and also in your own curated list) for your bottom line, and much, much more! Let’s dig in. 

Social media strategy can be overwhelming at first, but once you have a content calendar, annual marketing plan, and distribution calendar, you can put social media on autopilot and let your owner know how big of an impact your efforts are having on the bottom line. (They’ll love that last part!)

Here’s a breakdown of each of these concepts, along with a template for you to use in getting things organized: 

  • Social Media Strategy – a comprehensive plan that outlines how a business or individual intends to use social media platforms to achieve specific goals.
  • Content Calendar – typically includes details such as the type of content, publication dates, publishing platforms, targeted audience segments, and any relevant notes or reminders.
  • Annual Marketing Plan—An annual marketing plan serves as a roadmap for guiding marketing decisions throughout the year, ensuring alignment with overall business objectives and facilitating coordinated efforts across different marketing functions and teams within an organization.
  • Distribution Calendar—A distribution calendar is a scheduling tool used to plan and organize the placement of all of your content, including social media, newsletter, website updates, paid ads, event promotions, in-store signage, etc., over the course of a month.

Here’s an Annual Plan template that we recommended to our Hardware Innovators!

When it comes to creating content throughout the month, know that you can lean into team member insights. Your team interacts with customers on a daily basis and knows exactly what customers are looking for. That’s what we call a gold mine!

Speaking of content writing, a pro tip is to keep the values of your store close by (like on the wall or taped to your computer) because it will guide your content and show your audience who you are and why they should purchase from you. This is called brand consistency or consistency of voice.

Your email lists are also a powerful channel when it comes to adding an additional touch point for your customers, bringing in extra revenue for your hardware store. If you’re limited with your current email system, pull email lists and create your own newsletter where it feels local. Mailchimp is what our partner agency Mountain Mojo uses for all of their hardware store clients. 

Imagine 35% of your 1000-member newsletter list opens your emails and clicks to learn more about your next event, your red hot buys or just wants to read your hyperlocalized monthly blog. Those clicks translate into footsteps and sales! And if you’re lucky enough to have eCommerce on your site, you get direct sales!

Here are a couple of ideas that are worth mentioning from the call: 

    • Build up a pro list on your website, and in exchange, the pros can recommend products from your online store that they love. This is a great way to boost online sales! This might be an opportunity for a rebate program to thank your pros for recommending products!
    • Utilize town knowledge in your posts to make it personal. Invite people to comment on posts that are local by asking things like “We love our local bus drivers! Who is your favorite?” 
    • Recommended annual marketing budget should be 2-3% of gross revenue (utilize the budget tab in the Annual Plan template).
    • What you don’t measure, you can’t manage.
    • Did you know there was a National Tradesman Day? This is a great opportunity to create an event around it and show your B2B folks some love. In-store signage and yard signs around town are also a great way to show your support!
    • Be sure to sign your B2B folks up for a specific newsletter. Segment and tag them in Epicorp if possible to prevent a big mess in the future and Include something that will make them open the email like including funny memes that will lighten their day or building data in your city or town that will provide value to them.
    • Include any flyers for events that they might want to attend.
    • Give away a free energy drink next time they’re in-store or when they spend a specific amount of money.

Helpful Resources:

    • These list-type blog posts will boost your SEO.

    • This blog post is a great example of writing content for your local community that includes using your local community members. Utilize sites like Databox to track your metrics and know your ROI including acenet data if you’re an Ace dealer. 

    • Answer the Public is a great resource to learn what your audience is looking for and start your first blog!
    • Annual Plan Document – Be sure to take a look at all the tabs!

General Managers Mastermind Takeaways:

When it comes to promoting and demoting, it’s a tricky subject but one that our Hardware Innovators are passionate about doing right. Here’s what we talked about during our General Managers Mastermind!

A question that we brought up was, “When do you know it’s the right time to promote or demote?” The common consensus is demotion is hard, but the right employee will understand and likely be happier with a demotion. If that employee still wants to progress and move forward in the company, you can have an honest conversation with your employee, give constructive feedback, and create a clear path forward. Let them know that it’s not going to be instantaneous and will likely take 6+ months. The important part is creating clear expectations and guidelines of what you’re looking for in growth in order to move up. It’s their responsibility to take action, and it’s your responsibility to follow through on the promotion when they step up. 

When it comes to demotions, it’s better to have a skeleton crew than to have the wrong person in charge. Even when you’re in a pickle with staffing. A toxic employee will bring the whole company down.  You can rally a healthy team to push through a few weeks of being short staffed, but it takes months if not years to rally an unhealthy team that you allowed to be led by a toxic manager.

We also dove into the topic of specific types of leadership and how some types perform better than others in the hardware industry. Here are the top two leadership styles to look for when you’re hiring or promoting: 

Servant leadership – Lead by example, don’t tell anyone to do it, show them, not you go, we go, taking the tougher shifts (sat nights and holidays), sacrificing. Think of it as the CEO who picks up a broom when they see the need. Here’s a great book, in a parable format, The Servant.

Transformational leadership – Will adjust leadership style based on the person they’re speaking to. They’ll morph into what that person needs in order to succeed. 

We also discussed what to do when you’re in a bind with a great employee who wants to move up but there’s not an open role or they’re not quite a good fit for leadership. Some recommendations were to make up a new position with new pay slots, like; a new training role, a manager in training, or keyholder; let the employee interview for a leadership role and then coach them as to the training and/or soft skill development they need to go to the next level; discuss a raise by asking this person what they think success looks like 

Our innovators also recommend promoting people who have good gut instincts about “what to do”— usually people who have been around for a while.

When looking for people to promote or demote, ask their teammates what they think. ​​Teammates know their managers and will identify good and bad traits and areas for improvement that you can work on with them.

    Helpful Resources:

    • If the reward for individual performance is promotion to manager, you end up promoting people who aren’t motivated or qualified to manage. Instead, create three promotion tracks: one for leaders, one for individual contributors, and one combined technical/leadership, with similar pay & prestige. – Adam Grant. Watch this helpful video
    • “Passport training path” from ACE Learning Path
    • ACE feedback is helpful for providing constructive criticism 
    • Watch this video on what Simon Sinek has to say about creating a safe space for the next generation of the workforce.

    Does the idea of a monthly meet-up with other retail hardware stores sound valuable to you? Are you interested in sharing resources, asking questions, and participating with your peers on-demand with an exclusive slack channel?

    Join the Hardware Innovators Slack Group for real-time messages between innovators at different stores! 

    Email us at hello@hardwareinnovators.com to get signed up!

    guy on forklift

    Join Us on May 15th for our Next Mastermind

    For May, we’ll have two groups that meet: marketing and GMS.

    Need help signing up? Send us an email: hello@hardwareinnovators.com

    Are You On Board?

    Does the idea of a monthly meet-up with other hardware stores sound valuable to you? Are you interested in sharing resources, asking questions, and participating with your peers on-demand with an exclusive slack channel?

    Join the Hardware Innovators!

    Learn more about us here.