Retool Your Management Style

Poor management can drown a decorating shop, so improve your managerial execution by doing the following:

1. HIRE WISELY. Without the right employees, the best managing techniques will fall flat. Bring aboard people with good attitudes whose values match those of your shop. Experience is naturally a plus, but an unexperienced person with the right skill set can make a stellar fit. Referrals from excellent employees are one cost-free way to connect with quality candidates.

2. COMMUNICATE. It’s essential to convey instructions and expectations in clear, unequivocal terms. This includes everything from pinpoint objectives on a given order – “We need 200 shirts for this client embroidered and packaged today” – to broader job expectations and individual and company goals. “You can’t assume people think like you, so you have to be very specific in your expectations,” says Anna Johnson, owner of Phoenix-based Super Embroidery and Screen Printing (asi/700101).

3. SHOW APPRECIATION. Nothing motivates staffers like rewarding them for a job well done. Cash bonuses, cookouts, gift certificates, free decorated apparel and public acknowledgement in front of staff members – all are ways to say thanks. Often, a face-to-face thank you and a kind word about an employee’s strong performance is the best praise. “Feeling like a valuable member of the team,” Johnson says, “is more important than anything else.” On a related point: Treat all employees equitably, especially if you employ family members or friends. Undeserved preferential treatment can curtail a shop’s performance.

4. CROSS-TRAIN AND DELEGATE. Train your employees to do multiple jobs. That way, when one is out, another can step into the role, keeping efficiency high. With trustworthy, well-trained employees, you can delegate certain tasks. This helps prevent you from getting bogged down in smaller details, which frees you up to tackle bigger issues. “You can’t do everything, so delegating to the right people is a must,” Johnson says.

5. GET ORGANIZED. Ensure the physical layout of your shop is arranged to maximize the speed with which orders can be produced. But don’t stop there – make sure your system for receiving, processing and shipping jobs is airtight. Business management software can be a boon for sorting out the backend.