Adding up your business

Michael Greene, Maria Weiskott, June 4, 2001

"Michael! You say that you think that if I put on a happy face and hand my accountant last month's figures then, maybe, all the numbers in minus-red will suddenly turn to plus-black?"

And I answer your moan by saying: If you put on a happy face, although the cash registers aren't cash registering, it certainly won't hurt anyone and might even help some of the fine people working with you.

Alright! Alright! So you don't like my happy face shtick. Then here's a better one: Open another store.

"Bubbelah, go get those two guys in the white suits! Another store? With what? I've already hit up my mother-in-law! And I notice when we go visit her on Sundays the bowls of soup are a lot smaller and the vegetables a lot sparser! You are nuts, Ol' Swami!"

Wait, Bubbelah! I'm not finished. The store I'm yakking about has no extra rent, no extra personnel, no extra advertising, no bigger utility invoices! No nothing.

What I'm yakking about now I've yakked about before, but you didn't pay any attention because every day was a circus day and the clowns were all dressed in Nasdaq polka dots and wigs! You were satisfied. What I talked about was the concept that you're not in the shmatte business no matter what your sign says on the outside. You're in the real-estate business. Yes, real estate business, and therefore you have to use that space to maximum advantage...because it's already paid for.

Then I pointed to my Korean friends who start out with a vegetable stand and end up with a food store — all in the same square footage — selling everything from yogurt to fruits to salad bar to exotic cut flowers and gourmet chocolates. They're using their heads and their real estate.

And the gasoline stations are not just pumping gas. They're pumping cash galore with their walk-in snack shops and emporiums that their regular customers waltz into while paying for the gas they just rang up.

And the next time you're swallowing a doughnut and coffee, take a good look-see and you'll see your favorite shop peddling top-notch bagels with all kinds of things shmeered inside. And, not to forget, you might even see a Baskin-Robbins paying a chunk of the rent in exchange for square footage.

So now you ask: What do you want me to do, put in hot dogs and sauerkraut with shmattes, Michael?

Nope. But are you using your real estate to its fullest? Are there rugs for sale on your floors? Is there high-margin decor on your walls? Or maybe a chandelier or a mobile lighting up on your ceilings? All paid-for areas. And if you really want people to come in and see what's new in your emporium, it doesn't hurt to take one 10-foot wall, as an example, and show exotic imported coffee beans, jams galore and foreign newspapers. OK, Bubbelah! Take me away.

Thanks, again, for listening — but this time do it.

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