FDBuyer: Sam’s Rules
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Dairy Buyer magazine.
Perhaps the most famous part of Sam Walton’s autobiography, "Made in America," is in Chapter 17, "Running a Successful Company: Ten Rules that Worked for Me." Walmart’s founder, who grew up poor during the Depression in Missouri, learned the value of a dollar and of perseverance.
Mr. Walton, who died in 1992, never claimed that his ten rules would work for everyone. As he wrote in his book, "These rules are not in any way intended to be the Ten Commandments of Business. They are some rules that worked for me."
The wisdom in this abridged version of his rules is worth re-reading again and again.
Rule 1: Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else. If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you — like a fever.
Rule 2: Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.
Rule 3: Motivate your partners (associates). Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Make bets with outrageous payoffs.
Rule 4: Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners. The more they know, the more they’ll understand and the more they’ll care. Empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitors.
Rule 5: Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. A paycheck and a stock option will buy one kind of loyalty. But nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise.
Rule 6: Celebrate your success. Find some humor in your failures. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm — always.
Rule 7: Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking. The folks who actually talk to the customer are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there. Force good ideas to bubble up.
Rule 8: Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Make good on all your mistakes, and don’t make excuses — apologize. Stand behind everything you do.
Rule 9: Control your expenses better than your competition. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation.
Rule 10: Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.
How relevant are Sam Walton’s ten rules for success for retailers today? Which are more or less so?