Feature Student: Nick Martin of The Pro’s Closet

When did you first know you were on the right path in the specialty retail industry?
The Pro’s Closet (TPC) is a unique type of bike shop as we operate 100% online and specialize specifically in quality pre-owned bikes, components and accessories. TPC is the world’s largest used bike shop and we haven’t spent a dollar in advertising yet. I knew I was on the right path 10 years ago when I had to move out of my van and rent an apartment to organize all the inventory my fellow racers were sending me to sell on their behalf.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
Here at our TPC headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, we have a museum with over 100 historic bikes.  I love sharing the history of our sport and spreading awareness to those who are just getting into the sport.

In addition to the museum, I am passionate about growing a company culture that focuses on growing our people and building an environment that is continually improving.  I study a type of manufacturing initially developed by Toyota called “Lean Manufacturing.”  Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste within an organization. That waste can come in many forms: Wasted movement, excess inventory, over-processing, untapped employee genius, etc.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned through Mann U?
I’ll share a couple… One valuable lesson I learned at Mann U was to never stop interviewing. Even if we are not hiring, we are still constantly identifying quality candidates and opening up conversations that could lead to future employment.

Another key take away that stuck with me was that the best leaders are great listeners. You can’t multitask when listening to your team, and if now isn’t the best time to engage your best answer is:

“I can’t listen right now but I really want to give you the attention you deserve.  Can we….”

I use this all the time now and it’s proven to be a great way to show my employees that I genuinely care about what they have to say and want to create the time and space to listen.

Give us one pointer for developing a genuine relationship with your customers. 
Remember that our customers are people, not numbers. That classic golden rule, Treat others like you would like to be treated, never goes out of style.

Your bumper sticker would read, “I’d rather be… ___.”
“I’d rather be in the woods.” I just bought a piece of land above Boulder and have been building trails and doing fire mitigation there. The land has become my human battery recharger and there is no place I’d rather be than in the woods spending time with my black lab Norman.

What was your favorite part of working with the Mann Group?
Going through role-playing exercises and putting what we learned into motion.  When our team got back from the training, we continued to role play and practice different interview techniques until we felt confident we could execute in real time.

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