Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your BusinessThe last couple of years have been grim for retailers. The still-vacant shopping malls that dot the landscape like 21st century ghost towns bear silent testimony to the difficulties of trying to keep a retail operation going during a recession. Those retailers that haven’t yet succumbed to the precipitous drop in consumer spending are working harder than ever just to survive.

Fortunately, a new book will help retailers keep their doors open. (And no, smarty pants, I don’t mean by using it as a doorstop.) The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley, $19.95) by Bob Phibbs presents loads of practical, real-world advice that any retailer can put to use immediately.

What distinguishes this book is that Phibbs doesn’t just cover the topics you’d expect, like merchandising, signage and sales skills. He also touches on less obvious, but equally critical areas of running a successful retail business.

Phibbs devotes an entire chapter to hiring the right people, with savvy insights and clever ideas. (Wait ‘til you read how you can use the weather to help you make better hiring decisions!) Another chapter focuses on building and coaching your team, a topic most retail owners and managers don’t get anywhere near enough education about.

While I would have liked to have seen more material on marketing in this book, Phibbs does provide a good overview of how to use social media and other web strategies to attract and retain customers. It’s devoid of computer jargon, so even a devout technophobe can understand it and see the benefits of embracing web marketing.

My favorite part of the book, though, was a relative blip: Phibbs spends two pages discussing pricing philosophies and strategies. Those two pages alone are worth the price of the book a hundred times over. If you do nothing but digest what Phibbs says about pricing (it’s similar to what I share in my program, The Myth of Price), you will make your retail operation instantly more profitable.

If you’re in retail, whether you’re an owner or a manager, whether you’re responsible for a single outlet or an entire chain, you need to read this book. The economy may get better or it may get worse, but either way, you can survive—and even grow—if you put these ideas to work.

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