There’s much I learned from the family business but these 5 things stand out. When I was 12 years old, my parents bought a grocery store. I spent much of my teen years working in the family business. That was more than 50 years ago. The world and the world of business have changed, but some of the truths I learned continue to be relevant.

5 Things I Learned from the Family Business

  1. Know Your Business

 My father had over 20 years of experience working in and managing groceries before going into business for himself. He worked full-time for a national chain while attending college and worked his way from stock boy to general manager. Dad spent time as a sales representative for a grocery supplier, and he continued as a convenience store district manager when he first opened our store. He knew what he was doing.

  1. Offer Great Customer Service

I was taught at an early age that customers come first. Without customers, we had nothing. Mom and dad taught me to greet customers as they entered the store, ask if I could assist them, and help them find what they needed. I’ve carried groceries home for customers, allowed regulars to pay my dad the next day, and called customers when a product arrived.

  1. Follow Routines

Our store hours were 7 am to 11 pm. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to close early, but I wouldn’t consider it. It was part of the routine. Every night the shelves were restocked, dusted, and faced. We mopped the floors before closing, seven days a week. Money was counted, noted in a ledger, and locked in the safe nightly. We shared these routines with all new employees.

  1. Marketing Means Meeting Customer Needs

My mom and dad kept track of our stock—what sold and what sat on the shelves. They’d analyze and experiment with products, and they not only listened to customers but sought feedback. They sought advice from vendors, asked customers what they wanted that we didn’t have, and solicited ideas from employees.

  1. Advertising Doesn’t Always Mean Expensive Ads

I’m not sure we ever ran newspaper ads, and I know we never advertised on TV or radio. What I do know is we took advantage of what we had. We had window signs and flyers. The signs were hand-painted on large white sheets of paper. We posted weekly specials in our windows. Dad mimeographed (look it up!) flyers, which we stuffed in local mailboxes and put in grocery bags. Dad added displays promoting new products or seasonal themes to aisles and endcaps. And discounts, such as two for one or buy three and get one free, were offered.

5 Things I Learned from the Family Business Still Count 

All of this was 50 years ago, and while the world may have changed, good business practices aren’t all that different. Where did you learn about business, and what lessons have you retained?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.