It was not hard to figure out when my ex-wife had had enough of me.
My marriage didn’t end in a day and along the way there were signs posted. Nothing as well-marked as “STOP” and “YIELD,” though looking back, that would have been helpful. While not made in standardized shapes with reflective faces, the signs I received were equally as direct.
Before my days as a work-from-home, I was an early riser. Up at sunrise to open the stores, it was my ex-wife who generally made the bed in the morning. Coming home from work one day, I walked into our bedroom to see that she had only made her half of the bed.
A stop sign! Right there in the master bedroom!
Seeing your bed half-made is memorable. But that doesn’t mean you actually want to remember it! In my (12) post-divorce years, I had let that particular memory go. Lost to the passage of a decade and never to be thought of again.
Or so I thought.
Dinner “en casa Lipton” is different without the kids. Buck is a vegan depending on the time of day, though rarely at mealtime. Chris loves to carb-load. Unless it’s “leg-day” in which case it’s carb-free. Guy will eat whatever you put in front of her. As long as what you put in front of her is what she told you she wants!
So when I took Guy’s favorite thin-cut pork chops from the freezer and left them on the counter to thaw, I wasn’t expecting any drama.
Later that day as I moseyed into my former office (aka, the kitchen) to get dinner going I came across the last of my roommates: my fiancée Gaetana, and the three glistening chops.
Or, at least, one of them was!
They say that time travel is impossible, but in a blink, I was back into the doorway of the bedroom of the “marital residence,” looking at the half-made bed for the first time!
I knew this was a sign of trouble! Bram Stoker was right! "We learn more from failure than we do from success."
Knees shaking for fear of the answer I asked Guy the question that needed to be asked.
“Did you run out of herbs de provence, one chop in?”
In the same manner which I learned that my ex-wife was no longer a member of the Mark Lipton Fan Club, I learned that Guy is not a fan of the way I season pork chops!
Phew……that was close!
While not all signs portend a danger it’s best to be on the lookout! When a cop asks you “Didn’t you see the stop sign?” the answer should never be “Yes!”
Around your stores there are signs large and small and your success will depend on your abilities to read them.
A stack of three-five’s of primer which is usually a stack of ten, is a sign. Maybe it's a sign that you made a nice sale and you haven’t gotten a replacement order yet? Great news! But it may also be a sign that your vendor of that item has been out of stock for two-weeks and if you don’t find an alternative soon, you’re going to start losing sales!
Three employees standing around the back room, laughing it up and checking their phones is a sign. It may be a sign that they just unloaded a trailer from your largest paint vendor and they’re taking a much-deserved break? But it could also be a sign that they are not assigned enough work to keep themselves busy between customers and that a list of daily tasks you’d like to see them accomplish is in order.
An oft-ringing phone in your store can be a sign. It may be a sign that you’re busy and are going to stay that way for the day. But it can also be a sign that your web site is down, or not offering enough support to help your customers who want to shop online.
Noticing signs in the subtleties around your stores, and responding to them, will make you a better dealer. Learning to read the tea-leaves keeps issues from becoming problems, and problems from becoming crises!
And it may stop crises from becoming terminal.
Do you need to add a little more salt when you season your pork chop? Or it’s time to call a lawyer?
You’ll know, if you’ve been reading the signs.