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  • Mark Lipton

"Don't Worry Daddy, I Won't Break It!"


“Don’t worry daddy, I won’t break it” was a constant refrain in my house when my daughter was younger. “Honey, be careful with that Fabergé egg!” I would remind her. Usually, I would give her that reminder as I was walking to get the vacuum: the collision of fearlessness and clumsiness made for good fun, and a few insurance claims!


As she got older, “Don’t worry daddy, I won’t break it” became our inside joke. With a history of being a butter-fingers, there were plenty of opportunities for me to warn of impending doom. “Hey, don’t twirl your iPhone on your fingertips like that” would get me a sarcastic “Don’t worry daddy, I won’t break it!” As a teen, it came with the eye roll! But despite the fact that she felt I was just being unnecessarily concerned, I still ended up spending my time walking for the vacuum (and replacing a lot of iPhones).


Day one at home from a semester aboard, she asked if she could take my Jeep Wrangler out for a spin. I did well in kindergarten and so was happy to share my favorite toy! Our driveway is pretty tight so I said; “Just be careful pulling it out, I’ve got it parked close to the wall!”


It’s not even enjoyable telling the rest of this story since we all know how it ends. She gave me the “shut the hell up you dumb old fart” eye-roll and for good measure added a sarcastic “Don’t worry daddy, I won’t break it!”


The body shop says my Jeep should be ready in a week!


Spring brings more than the opportunity to pull the top down on my Wrangler. I am already noticing the increase in business in my two New York City stores. With the additional volume comes additional opportunity for expensive mistakes that I try to avoid. After a long and slow winter, it’s finally time for all of us to pay attention again.


I like to keep my inventory light during the winter months: there’s no point in paying for paint that is not going to sell for months. But now that we are getting busier, we need to refill the shelves. With all that product coming in, I am always reminding my staff to be extra careful and be sure what you are checking into our POS system is what the vendor sent us.


For ordering my stores depend heavily on a min/max level for each SKU and a live inventory accurately maintained. My guys hear all the time: get it wrong when you check it in and it won’t be there when you reach for it to complete a sale!


I’d like to think that we can keep that same standard all year long and we try! But this time of year I implore them to be extra vigilant. This time of year, because painters are so busy, an item out of stock can be more costly. I generally don’t get upset if we lose a sale for something that we don’t stock, but losing a sale because we made a counting or keypunch error when an order came in, drives me mad! I’m fortunate in that my least senior employee has been with me over four years, so they know me AND my reasons why this is important.


It’s not just ordering and inventory that you should be giving more focus to right now. As we start the season we are focusing on our outbound calls too! Over the winter, it’s not so unusual to lose touch with some of our “pot and brush” customers: they get slow and come in less. Now is a good time to get them on the phone and remind them that you’re there for them. It’s a good time to speak to them about upcoming jobs: exterior jobs tend to be planned little further in advance than other jobs. I like to ask customers what’s coming up so I can mark it on my calendar for follow-up.


If you’ve read some of my previous columns you know that I encourage dealers to use winter as a time to plan and make changes. All those plans should be in place now and fully executed. Take a look at any big in-store projects you may have going on and if you don’t have time to finish them with the busier selling season going on, it may be time to put them down until the winter: Right now you should be focusing on selling and delivering.


So enjoy the reemergence of your stores from their winter slumber. And if you see my daughter on the roads, do me a favor and remind her to watch out for retaining walls! I hear they’re easier to hit than it seems!


Don’t mind the eye roll!



©2019 by Mark Lipton

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