I feel like, lately, I’ve been focused a lot on technology. So, this month, I’m opting to focus a little more on human capital. When we think about our stores, we tend to focus on day-to-day operations: the cost of goods, profit margins, advertising, overhead and many other things. The people around us are easy to take for granted because, for the most part, they’re always there…especially the truly reliable ones who are always in the background, doing what needs to be done. We all know people like that: the ones who keep the machine running. Often, they don’t get much credit or publicity.
I’ve been really fortunate over the last few years. I’ve been on the cover of MMR; I’ve been interviewed in Music Inc., the Los Angeles Times and others; and I’ve been writing for The Music & Sound Retailer since my first op-ed was published two years ago. I’ve been to a bunch of NAMM shows; I’ve been on three “Best in Show” panels; I’ve made more friends than I can count; and I’ve been heavily involved with NAMM, both online and on stage. I’ve learned so much not only about the industry, but also, going forward, how I want to affect it. It’s been an amazing time for me, and it’s not lost on me how lucky I’ve been to do it all. Here’s the simple truth, though: Everything that I’ve gotten to do is because of other people.
I’ve talked extensively about Brad Shreve, Owner of Larry’s Music Center, who was the first employee of Larry’s Music Note (as it was then known) back when its Founder, Larry Lang, started the place. Plenty of industry stalwarts still remember Larry to this day, and many of you know Brad…or you’ve at least read about him in this column. Last month, I wrote a bit about David Lueschen, our Educational Sales Manager and “road man,” who keeps our band directors happy and who manages our rental program. There’s a third leg of that tripod whom you’ve probably never met or even heard about, but who is just as important to the success of the store: Scott, our NAPBIRT-certified Repair Technician.
Scott was the store’s second employee, and he has kept all our school band instrument rentals, as well as instruments owned by our local schools, up and running for 35 years. That’s a long time to stay in one position. And, when someone becomes such an integral part of the inner workings of your store, it can be easy to take what he or she does for granted. Sometimes, we can forget to let that person know how important he or she is.
His is a big job that comes with a lot of pressure and a heavy workload. Of all the people I’ve met from other stores at the NAMM Show, none of them has been a repair technician. I suspect they don’t often go, because they’re so busy keeping up with their workload. I know what it’s like to feel bogged down by work, but I don’t know what it’s like to have a band director walk in on a Friday and hand you half a dozen sousaphones that must be repaired by Monday. I don’t know what it’s like to have to make parts for an old instrument when they’re no longer readily available. I do know that if I spent that much time soldering and heating things, I’d be so covered in burn scars that I’d look like something out of a horror movie.
There’s so much about that kind of work that I’ll never understand. Sure, I’ve absorbed enough over the years to spot obvious leaks, torn pads, and valves and slides that haven’t been properly lubricated. But, if I actually had to try to repair any of that, it’d be a disaster. The complexity of it and the amount of skill it takes is beyond my reach. And that’s not even to mention having the ability to turn around instruments in just a day or two. I can’t imagine the patience and skill it takes to do that work, and how thankless most of it probably is.
I admire a lot of things about Scott, most of which I’ve probably never gotten around to telling him. Two dudes talking about their feelings is probably a stretch for us; hopefully, though, he knows how much I respect and admire his tenacity and his absolute dependability. I’ve never in my life seen someone so committed to doing something well, doing it right the first time and always delivering his work on time.
Recently, I had an opportunity to work with the newest Larry’s Music Center team member, Simon, on a video short to promote the Wadsworth OH location we opened in October. It was a spur of the moment idea that happened while I was dropping off some stock items. Simon, who has been very active on social media and within the community, told me about an idea he had to promote other downtown businesses on our Facebook page. I thought it was great and I suggested making a video, since I keep my camera on me all the time now. Simon, who’s down for anything, jumped right in, and he did a great job in a single-shot “walk and talk” through downtown Wadsworth. I was able to edit the footage overnight and add some graphics and music; with that, we had an instant success that never would have happened if I hadn’t listened to an awesome idea from a co-worker. Recognizing potential in others and enlisting their passion can only make your team stronger.
I’m sure most of us have a Scott or a Simon in our lives. He or she might have a different position, but we all have someone—or perhaps several people—whom we rely on and to whom we don’t give enough credit. If we all stop and take a few minutes to look around, the greatest assets any business can have are the human beings who work to make it a success every day. It’s important to notice and acknowledge the contributions of everyone on the team, even if you think you’re the captain or the star player who just made the winning basket. Even LeBron thanks his teammates. Letting other people know they’re important is something that’s easy to do, and we can all do it a little better every day.
Who are the people you rely on? How do you express your gratitude for their creativity and hard work?
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.