The final days of the year are upon us. It is a natural time to reflect and dream on what the future can hold for your thrift operation and the non-profit you support. To do so, it’s important to gain a fresh perspective so as not to stay stuck in a rut.
For an art lover, perspective is important when viewing a masterpiece. By simply changing the angle by which you are viewing a painting, you can see new attributes of the masterpiece.
A similar revelation occurs when wrestling with a challenging problem. Often times we only need to consider the problem in a different way in order to find a way forward.
As you reflect and dream, follow three steps to prepare you and your team to Do Thrift Better.
Hindsight is 20/20
The first step is review and reflect on the successes and lessons learned over the previous months. We’ve heard “hindsight is 20/20” but only when we take the time to look back.
- What was your greatest success from the past 12 months? Your greatest shortcoming?
- Who contributed to this success? Who deterred from the team getting better?
- What metrics best informed your decisions? What additional information would have been helpful?
- If you are to be “bigger and better”, what changes are needed to support this growth?
Investing time in introspection will yield some perspective as you prepare for the coming months.
Test Your Hypotheses
No doubt as you identify people, processes and strategies that worked well, you’ll have ideas of how to make everything work even better. Step two is test these ideas on a small scale, for a short period of time, or at single store location or department.
A good hypothesis includes what you are testing and the expected outcome. Make sure you know what you want to see in the results. Metrics are critical to validate your ideas. Use ThriftTrac or another tool to capture and then analyze the data.
Consider investing in mystery shopping to determine if required messages to customers and donors are being shared. Mystery shoppers help test for consistency in experiences.
A Walk In Someone Else’s Shoes
Often times we need another person to voice their perspective in order to break out of our tunnel vision. We need to walk in someone else’s shoes. Step three is to invite others into the conversation.
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” What advisers are available to you to help provide a fresh perspective? Keep in mind everyone has a natural bias so each person’s perspective should not carry the same weight.
The SMCo Thrift team has been invited to share our perspective with several partners. A site evaluation has often preceded a strategic push, either in same-store growth or in expanding to new locations, and resulted in growth in the following months. Borrow from our perspective in order to see your operation from a new angle to Do Thrift Better.
Follow Steps One, Two and Three
In the final month of this year, create the space to follow steps one, two and three. The investment in time and energy will yield an enlarged perspective needed to make the right decisions for you and your thrift operation.