©2019 by Mark Lipton

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  • Mark Lipton

I Hate Winter!


I got my drone stuck in a tree on Friday. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. It would be more accurate to say that I got my SECOND drone stuck in a tree on Friday.


For Christmas this year, my daughter fanned a flame inside me that I had no idea was even an ember: she got me my first drone! I took the drone out of the box and did a (very) fast read of the instruction book. I had seen birds fly and have also at-times been accused of “droning on” while speaking and so I felt like I was already a master drone pilot.


As I watched my new toy get caught in a gust of wind and sail to the next town over, I learned a valuable lesson about altitude and the effects of wind speed on tiny kite-like toys. Not something the paint business had ever taught me!


I had owned it about two weeks. With that experience though, I felt like I had learned enough to control the skies above Memorial Park, so I ordered a replacement.


As it turns out, losing a second drone is far easier and takes far less time than losing the first. When my replacement (drone # 3) comes, I think I’m just going to save myself a trip to the park and just enjoy looking at it for a few days and then throw it in the trash.


My fiancée was sure she could get drone # 2 back. “You know which tree it’s in right?” she asked. I did! “Well, then we should be able to get it back!”


Like I had learned to do with my dog, I rewarded my fiancee’s enthusiasm and confidence with a trip to the park. Looking up the better part of 100 feet into a tree, which was otherwise limbless for the first 50 feet, I pointed to the drone (see picture). I wish I were a good enough writer to accurately describe the hilarity of the next 15 minutes standing under that tree.


Eventually, the full weight of the futility struck her! Me too! I found myself thinking about the paint business in winter, and futility. Both drones were lost on days that I should have otherwise been at work. But this time of year, there IS no work. And so I lost two drones because of the futility of winter as a paint retailer.


My name is Mark, and I’m a paint dealer. And I HATE winter!


My father hated winter too! His winters were worse than mine. He was a single store operator who managed the store himself so like many of you: if the store were opened, he had to work. I get a little bit of a break because at least I have my writing and consulting which keeps me busier than dad was.


But still, I’m mostly a paint dealer and so winter sucks!


I don't understand why winter is such a bad time to be a paint dealer. In my father’s day I got it! Paints like Alkyd Sani-Flat and Dulamel (oil based interior paints of yore for the young readers) reeked to high heck and you could not really safely paint inside a home if you could not open the windows. But now, what we sell has such a limited odor, I don’t get why that pattern has not changed.


None-the-less, it hasn’t! And so I still hate winter.


On the radio yesterday, I heard a commercial for Certa-Pro. They were trying to entice people into winter painting. I guess they hate winter too? The commercial said: “paint dries faster in the cold weather”. While not true, I appreciated the effort. (I also wondered if I was the only person who heard that commercial to know it was a lie?) The commercial also presupposes that the customer cares how long paint takes to dry which is also probably not true. Still, kudos to Certa-Pro for trying and anyway, this column is not about bashing the Certa-Pro marketing department.


Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I take as much time off as I can in the winter. I know from speaking to other dealers, many of you do the same. That’s a great idea. We all worked really hard this year and need a break to allow us to do the same thing again next year.


Still though, in between the time off there are still some things you can do to make your winter more valuable.


I like to make sure to count both stores top to bottom before January ends. I will also allot the hours necessary to go through each of my SKU’s and make sure that the amount of inventory we set our POS system to keep in stock is connected to the actual sales of that product: high turns mean a more efficient use of my investment dollars!


I meet with both my store managers twice each January: once as a group and then once individually. We go over in detail the year just past and the year approaching. We speak of goals and how to attain them.

Whatever you do to pass the winter months, remember that spring will come before you know and you will be busy again. Will you be ready? Just like a good paint job: preparation is EVERYTHING!



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