What Do Penguins Wearing Sombreros Have to Do With Hardware?

“A penguin walks into a room with a sombrero. What does he say?”

Out-of-the-box ideas like this make these meetings worth it for us! If you weren’t in the marketing mastermind, this was an example of a fun question to throw out during a group interview.

June’s meetings showed us how similar and different our stores are. Whether we’re in an urban area or a more rural location, there are lessons that we can all learn from.

Hardware Innovators is a place to connect with people experiencing similar challenges, share similar wins, and learn from different perspectives.

A written list of key takeways.

Key Takeaways

Across all meetings, we talked a lot about the importance of store culture and core values. From marketing to hiring, the people you bring onto your team and the customers you serve are part of your community. This is true for new marketing, new hires, and B2B accounts.

Marketing Mastermind Takeaways:

We wondered together if SEO and blogging were even worth the time and energy, and views were mixed. It came down to understanding that SEO is part of the long game for search engines but a shorter game for cultivating community and culture. 

  • Your small community/audience is ripe with opportunities for blogging! 
  • Know your audience (who they are, what they want to read, and what they’ll gain value from).
  • Do it with a strategy in mind – don’t throw content to the wind and expect it to stick. 
  • You don’t need to do it all yourself, and it doesn’t need to be hardware driven; it can be community-driven content.  
  • Blogging is a huge opportunity to connect with the community. 
  • SEO is a long game. Don’t expect immediate traffic/ranking results. 
  • Blogging helps build culture. 

GM Mastermind Takeaways

GMs focused on hiring tactics, challenges, and successes. We learned that group interviews are a godsend for getting people to apply, interview efficiency, and culture checks. Seeing folks in a group setting collaborating and interacting will teach you so much about how they’ll behave on the floor. 

  • Use activities in group interviews to test people skills and collaboration.
  • Group interviews are great! But don’t miss out on quality candidates if only one person applies.
  • Streamline the first phase of interviews: skip the phone; go to the group interview.
  • Build your bench: even if you think you have a solid team, hire a little more (not too much). 
  • Get team buy-in. If one person says “yes” give a second interview.
  • Hire for the personality. Train the skills.
  • Hire to your core values.
  • Use pre-qualifying questions and let the candidates set up the interview online.

Owners Mastermind Takeaways: 

Our main takeaway from the owners’ mastermind was… well, owners must be pretty busy because we didn’t have enough participants to really get the conversation going!!  Do you know anyone who wears the owner hat that would benefit from these calls? Send them our way!

B2B Sales Mastermind Takeaways:

Our B2B call was a small group, but there were still valuable things we learned from the conversation. We talked about how important it is to have a supportive team behind your B2B efforts on the floor. Whether that’s the cashiers noticing repeat customers, or a team member seeing a business name tag on a customer wandering the aisles, the group makes a huge difference. 

  • Local community connections are a good place to look for new B2B customers.
  • Identify product-specific niches and expand from there (e.g., paper goods for restaurants).
  • Seasonal sale trends can bring in a lot of business, but hard to keep up with demand.
  • A support team on the floor/at the register is key to B2B success. 
  • Offer a special when businesses first sign a contract (e.g., 5% off). 
  • Get a list of “What do you keep ordering?” from them. Sometimes need to do this face-to-face. 
  • Big accounts are great – but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

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.


Join Us July 19, 2023 for our Next Mastermind

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