Our retail team spends weeks preparing presentations for key retail partners such as The Home Depot and Office Max. We dot every i and cross every t in making sure we’ve got the best chances of being successful. We try to anticipate and prepare for everything, to reduce surprises in the meeting.
One force we can’t control (yet) is Mother Nature... and she blew our way in the form of Hurricane Ike hitting TX just days before we flew down to the Southeast to meet with one of the nation’s largest home improvement retailers. So despite our extensive prep work, we were unsure of what to expect upon arrival.
What we discovered was impressive: the hurricane sent this retailer into extraordinary action mode. It mobilized senior executives, set up a command & control center rivaling what you’d expect to find at The Pentagon, and had people working ‘round the clock to choreograph convoys of trucks carrying critical goods – generators, shovels, etc. – to the exact stores that needed them most. Ike had initially been expected to hit Florida, so trucks were re-routed across states as the storm path evolved. Interestingly, some people in the command center were entirely focused on making sure the retailer’s employees in TX were taken care of – checking on them and their families, getting them hotel rooms as needed, etc. – because the stores can’t serve others when employees themselves are distressed.
A few of the executives we’d planned to meet with could not leave the command center to see us. So we met with some as planned, and we also met with other decision makers delegated to fill in for those who couldn’t make it. And we ultimately achieved our goals for the trip.
The takeaways from all of this:
Plan for the challenges that may arise
Sweat the small stuff
Be flexible so you can roll with things as they evolve