They call us Brick & Mortar stores. Physical locations where you go to pick out and pick up your goods.
But many stores are simply Brick stores - no mortar. Those are the stores being Showroomed.
Bricks are the products. Bricks are the items you choose to put into your store. Bricks are the items you buy, hoping to sell for a profit. Bricks are the reason you believe customers will beat a path to your door.
Oh, but you would be wrong on that last one.
Sure, you better have some nice bricks. But everyone knows that just stacking a bunch of bricks will not build a sustainable structure. Anyone can come by and knock it down.
Mortar is the glue that holds the bricks together. You need a good mortar.
Mortar is the staff you hire and train. Hire the right people and train them well. Give them autonomy to do the job they are capable of doing, mastery to do it better each successive time, and a purpose greater than themselves that will motivate them to do their best.
Mortar is the way you service and take care of your customers. Build policies around your Values. Build policies around the Feelings you hope to give your customers. Build policies around Delight, around going above and beyond what your customers expect.
Mortar is the way you invest in your community. Mortar is the charities you support, the issues you champion, the involvement and commitment you make to the greater good.
Mortar is the special touches you offer. Mortar is turning off the overhead music when an autistic child enters your store because you know it bothers him. Mortar is carrying the heavy item out to the car - even though it is parked hundreds of feet away - so that mom can manage the stroller and the toddler who wants to walk. Mortar is calling that customer who really wanted your sold-out, discontinued science set because somebody returned one the next day. Mortar is saying Yes! when everyone else says No.
The stronger your mortar, the stronger your store, regardless of which bricks you use.
Bricks are everywhere. The bricks that make up your store can be found online, in hundreds of other stores, all over the place. They can be found right in your customer's pocket, one click away. If you want to make it in this retail climate, you need some incredibly good mortar.
Tell me what is your mortar?
PS Mortar is also your financial strength, your ability to manage your inventory and cash flow, your ability to manage your expenses and cost of goods. The best retailers find ways to strengthen their mortar everywhere they can. If you are in the Jackson area and want to strengthen the mortar in your store, sign up for the Jackson Retail Success Academy class starting in January.