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on May 11, 2005
Everything you ever wanted to know about success in retail in jammed into this one book. This author covers it all, not just by focusing on the brand or location, but real solid ideas on people management, property management, finance and long term strategy. Somehow the author covered both how an upstart company can get it done and how a big and bland organization can get back on the right track. The books main focus is helping a retail business expand into becoming the next Starbucks.

The author starts out by detailing some rather hard facts. Most new business owners jump into the enterprise. They do little planning and as a result over half fail within the first year. The author details that the real issues are not always a lack of cash, but that the entrepreneur had a lack of knowledge of how to avoid mistakes, how to efficiently operate a business, and how to think through business issues. The author believes that you need a holistic approach to conceiving, designing and carrying out a retail business plan. This book gives you real world examples on how to keep your brand fresh and relevant. On top of all this the book is also well written and easy to read. The pages fly by. Overall I thought the book was wonderful. It had a ton of insight and more good ideas then you can possibly use. This is one of those books that you keep handy and keep going back to.
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If you are working in the retail industry this book will be of interest to you. In it the authors detail how to start or buy a retail business as well as how to revive a failing one. This is not just another book on retail theories. Arthur Rubinfeld has worked with the likes of Starbucks, Oakley, Gateway, and many other highly successful retailers. Co-author Collins Hemmingway also co-authored Bill Gates' best selling book Business @ the Speed of Thought.

The authors provide a step-by-step process focusing on all aspects of a successful retail business including branding, location, employees, customers, finance, and business planning. The book is well organized and follows the normal business growth model from planning and implementing your first store through expansion to using innovation as a way to grow beyond the limits of your current product line or customer profile. Of course such a book would not be thorough if it didn't include information on pitfalls to avoid and the authors do not disappoint the reader in this area either. With solid advice in how to be a success in your retail business Built for Growth is a recommended read.
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on September 5, 2005
Built for Growth was an extremely thought provoking and eye opening read. Rubinfeld and Hemingway asked themselves a crucial question: 'What makes the growth of truly exceptional companies different from the other companies?' - by answering which, the authors have discovered timeless principles that distinguish growth strategies of outstanding companies.

Of all books on business strategy, this one packs a rare combination of academic rigor, practicality and insight.

As a current business student with a summer internship in a "Built for Growth company," I was amazed as their careful analysis rang true. This is one book I can highly recommend to any student, professional, or business educator looking for those not-so-subtle traits that characterize a truly "Built for Growth" company!!
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on April 24, 2005
Rubinfeld and Hemingway identify their audience by asking a simple question, "Who doesn't want to run his own business?" Then they segment the audience between the young who "think about it from time to time" and the old who "wish [they] had opened that little shop before the kids came." I fall in the latter category. Still this book offered me much to consider.

The chapter most directly relevant to me described how to create, train and motivate an effective organization. It was written in the context of hiring a retail team, but the authors' advice carries over well to creating organizations in general. In the hiring process, dig beyond the resumes. A person's values and abilities are the characteristics that make them succeed, not their pedigree. Get past the formal questions quickly and ask less formal ones, ones the interviewee can't anticipate and prepare for in advance and ones that reveal their core values. Look for "utility players," people who can adapt their experiences to different situations. Don't rush the hiring process. Make sure you find the right person and once you do, immerse him or her into the culture of your company as quickly and completely as possible. To get the best you need to be able to tell a compelling story for why that person should want to work for you. You, the hiring manager, need to prepare as much as the interviewee.

Throughout the book, Rubinfeld and Hemingway stress the importance of articulating your core values when you define your retail business and suggest an exercise: Create a mantra of three words that captures your values, then in a sentence or phrase, explain how each word reflects your values. The examples they give for the companies Il Fornaio Cafe and Bakery, Omaha Steaks and Gateway Computers are instructive for retail purposes, but it occurred to me that this was a valuable exercise even for my own personal values and I took the time to work through my own mantra.

The strength of the book is definitely Rubinfelds' experiences working with companies either as an employee or a consultant. The authors use those experiences effectively to support their views about what it takes to create first-class retail businesses. The stories of Starbucks, Blue C Sushi, Potbelly Sandwiches and others are each interesting in their own right and they are told over the course of the book in an interesting fashion.

"Built for Growth" is a book worth reading and keeping on your bookshelf next to other classic business books like Jim Collins's books "Build to Last" and "Good to Great" both of which are referenced by Rubinfeld and Hemingway. If you found the Collins books interesting, you'll enjoy "Build for Growth."
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on March 31, 2005
This is a fun, well-written book that provides unique, expert insights into all the tools and concepts needed to turn an idea into a successful retail business.

It works on two levels. It's a great, practical nuts-and-bolts primer on the process of drafting a business plan, getting investors interested, deciding where to locate, negotiating the lease, designing the store, tailoring your goods to the customer's needs, and developing customer loyalty. It can be scaled up from a single store to a large chain. Co-Author Arthur Rubinfeld, now a prominent retail consultant, was a leading architect of the strategy that turned Starbucks into a household name throughout the world, so his advice is well-taken. He's generous with that advice; filling the book with interesting and amusing anecdotes about the real-world application of his principles. The "inside scoop" on Starbucks' wild ride reads like a good novel.

On a different level, the book explores the "big picture" ideas that form the zen of retailing. The authors provide hard-won guidance to prospective entrepreneurs in the difficult process of determining what their real goals are, how their retail store or chain will help realize those goals, and how that success will benefit their customers and their community. The authors make an effective plea for a more human approach to establishing a business identity, "branding", through quality service and not just fluff. Along the way they demonstrate that a little soul-searching in the beginning of the process can save many days of regret and lots of money. It will be a very useful and enjoyable addition to your library..
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on May 10, 2005
I am only half way through this book and have more than gotten my money worth. I am not a retailer but a service business owner and would still consider this a must read. If you like Good to Great, you will like this as well...
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In the Introduction, Rubinfeld explains that the book he and Hemingway have written "is primarily geared at helping a retailing entrepreneur rapidly expand into a powerful marketing presence. The same principles that drive an entrepreneur, however, can also reinvigorate the brand for an existing retail chain and trigger new growth. These principles can also help carve out a profitable, defensible niche against potential market invaders for the retailers who want to keep their business small....[Built for Growth] distills what I have learned from a comprehensive view of what it takes to develop a winning retail concept....[by taking] a holistic approach to retail development, combining theory and practical ideas to cover the entire scope of what it takes to succeed in retail."

This is an otherwise informative excerpt but I do challenge one of its implications: That the information and counsel provided will be of greatest value only to those now involved in various stages of retail entrepreneurship. That is too restrictive. In fact, what is offered in this volume can also be of great value to decision-makers in other organizations which are now or hope to become business partners with retail merchandisers.

Moreover, I highly recommend this brilliant book to decision-makers in all other organizations (regardless of size or nature) which also need (1) to conceive, design, and then execute a brand (or brands) with sustainable appeal and increasing value; (2) to create an environment within which imagination, courage, and drive can be nourished; (3) to "go long" by executing a strategy by which to achieve rapid growth with business models that scale rapidly and thereby establishes market supremacy which puts "the game out of reach" from competition; (4) to dominate with the most appropriate POP "locations" which could include retail outlets, perhaps, but also catalogs, Web sites, telemarketing, couponding, and appropriate strategic alliances; and to "push the envelope" of brand leadership through innovation which invigorates product or service, design, customer service, and quality..."over and over again."

The material is carefully organized within four Parts: Make No Little Plans (Chapters 1-7), Go Long (Chapters 8-11), Own Main & Main (Chapters 12-15), and Push the Envelope (Chapters 16 and 17). Most of the recommendations provided in each Part are based on Rubinfeld's extensive real-world experience while serving as Starbucks' executive vice president, and, on Hemingway's equally extensive experience while serving as Microsoft's director of business development and international marketing. He is also the co-author with Bill Gates of Business @ the Speed of Thought. Of great importance to me is the fact that only about 20-25% of this book discusses principles and everything else focuses on implementation, execution, achieving objectives, performance, etc. Rubinfeld and Hemingway's intellectual rigor is evident throughout their narrative. Guided by sound theories and plausible hypotheses, they take a holistic approach while concentrating on specific mental and business models as well as strategies, tactics, values, and applications which are essential to sustainable business growth..."around the street or across the globe."

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It is certainly worth reading a book from someone who can translate a simple coffee experience from a modest 100 stores to over 4,000 locations and concurrently bolster one of the most recognizable brands in the retail world. In fact, at a phenomenal rate of three stores opening every day, Starbucks has the ambitious goal of having over 30,000 global locations thanks to the initial out-of-the-box thinking of Arthur Rubinfeld. As the former EVP of Store Development for Starbucks, he is probably best known for his role in that company's rapid expansion. With his impressive track record, Rubinfeld, who co-wrote the book with Collins Hemingway, manages to weave together broad general principles of retailing with valuable practical advice.

The authors separate the book into four major parts, covering conceptualization and design, strategic planning and execution, the selection of location and innovation. Pervasive throughout this primer is the value Rubinfeld rightfully places on branding, and it is this level of insight which drives the book forward with compelling credibility, as his subsequent career as a brand development consultant for Adidas and Washington Mutual can attest. From this unique perspective, it's fascinating to follow the thought process from store design to location to customer service as a unique differentiator. Every step of the way, Rubinfeld illustrates the paradigm for the value of combining imaginative planning with hard-nosed execution.

Rubinfeld's past careers as both architect and construction manager feed into his concept of using the "design touchstones" of earth, fire, water and air in each store, as they are meant to represent the sequential development of the coffee bean - growth, roasting, brewing and aroma. In fact, the design concepts led by Rubinfeld's vision worked in a way that competitors found it impossible to emulate any individual element through their store designs, much less the cohesive vision Rubinfeld displayed. We learn more granular detail such as the 80/20 rule used at each location, where 80 per cent of every new store could be fitted with a selection of mass-produced standard components with local designers then given the freedom to customize the remaining 20 per cent to meet the conceptual requirement of individuality and sensitivity to environmental factors.

In turn, the stores were being directed to areas selected by both economic and educational demographics for maximum impact. This brings up the most enlightening aspect of the book, real estate, which has arguably been as much a success criteria for Starbucks as the coffee experience itself has been within the store. In telling detail, Rubinfeld explains how the proximity of dry cleaners and video stores has been a decisive success factor for Starbucks in attracting the "going-to-work" traffic generated from people dropping off clothes at the dry cleaners on their way to work and the "coming-from-work" traffic picking up movies from Blockbuster. He understandably advocates always locating a store near other tenants who attract a more affluent customer base than one would associate with the store itself. Consequently, Starbucks avoids locating stores in close proximity to fast food chains because these restaurants generally draw a less affluent customer.

These are great nuggets of insight for any small business owner or even a larger retail chain in need of economic rejuvenation. It's arguable that the Starbucks formula can be effectively duplicated in other commerce arenas, but regardless, Rubinfeld and Hemingway have come up with a very hands-on manual for the would-be entrepreneurial retail brand builder that I would consider invaluable. Even if you are reading this tome from the perspective of a Starbucks consumer, it makes for an intriguing read on how you are being drawn to their stores in the most methodically effective manner.
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on October 22, 2005
We've all heard about thinking outside the box. Sometimes it really pays off. Take Ray Kroc: He started out by selling milkshake machines to the brothers McDonald but quickly realized that the stronger revenue potential was not in equipment but in milkshakes (and hamburgers too, of course). Howard Schultz had similar foresight when he was peddling coffee machines to a chain called Starbucks. In both cases the entrepreneurs saw far beyond the box. Both entrepreneurs ended up buying those businesses and became extraordinarily successful.

Optimism and faith in an idea aren't enough, though. As this book explains, it's also important to preemptively outdo and overtake the competition, open in a top-notch location, and manage the brand so you truly stand out with product, design, service, and quality. Arthur Rubinfeld knows something about this, since he spent ten years as an executive vice president taking Starbucks from 100 stores to around 4,000. The book's coauthor, Collins Hemingway, co-wrote Business at the Speed of Thought with Bill Gates. Rubinfeld is now founder and CEO of Airvision consultants, and Hemingway has his own firm, Escape Velocity Ventures.

The holistic approach offered here describes how to devise a concept, develop it in a local market, and then expand nationally and globally. Concurrently, according to Rubinfeld and Hemingway, it is important to keep the brand at the forefront of customers' minds. They combine theory with practice to explain the many aspects of successfully growing and managing a retail business. While chapters cover a range of pertinent areas such as merchandising, execution, real estate, and branding, they do not venture into online e-tailing: Rubinfeld is a traditional practitioner and shares what he knows of the true bricks and mortar retail experience.

Retail is tough whether you run one store or are part of a large company trying to manage its brand while growing rapidly. Built for Growth is a practical guide with good ideas, encouragement, and advice for a wide range of managers.
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on December 24, 2005
“Who doesn’t want to run his own business? Who doesn’t want to have her own store? If you’re young, you think about it from time to time. If you’re older, you wish you had opened that little shop before the kids came – or you plan to open it when you retire. We all want to control our destiny. We all want to express our creativity. We all want to build something that will last. But how do you start a retail operation? That’s the question I am most often asked. How do you create a going concern, one that will grow and build long-term value? That is another common query. ‘Built for Growth: Expanding Your Business Around the Corner or Across the Globe’ answers these and related questions (from the Introduction).”

Arthur Rubinfeld, the architect behind Starbucks’ expansion, helped build Starbucks into one of the world’s top brands, says that ‘Build for Growth’ distills what I have learned into a comprehensive view of what it takes to develop a winning retail concept. This shows you:

• How to combine core personal and company values with your business expertise to create a meaningful brand.

• How to creatively craft your on-the-street retail presence to capture the essence of your brand and develop customer loyalty.

• Hot to identify the best locations for your concept.

• How to build your management team, organization, and systems – whether you want to have one store or 1,000.

• How to systematically and aggressively execute your plans.

• How to successfully operate your business to keep customers coming back.

• How to innovate and renew your brand.

In addition, he says, “Other books deal with one or two of these topics, but none has taken a holistic approach to retail development, combining theory and practical ideas to cover the entire scope of what it takes to succeed in retail.”

In this context, this invaluable book has been organized into sections based on four fundamental principles: (1) Make No Little Plans, (2) Go Long, (3) Own Main & Main, and (4) Push the Envelope. Each of these sections has covered a major aspect of retail strategy, in order in which you will normally experience them as you grow your business.

I highly recommend.
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