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201 GREAT IDEAS for Your SMALL BUSINESS, Third Edition by Jane Applegate

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GREAT 22 IDEA: Cross-Train Your Employees

With so many online options for buying office supplies, why would anyone pick up the phone, place an order, and wait for a Magee's truck to deliver?

“We have 25 trucks on the road every day,” said Peter Winslow, who bought the Randolph, Vermont–based company in 1963. Customers from 70 miles away rely on Magee's to keep their shelves stocked. One way they compete with office superstores is by belonging to a purchasing cooperative that serves 250 small office supply dealers.

Another secret of their long-term success is cross-training all employees to do multiple jobs. That way, people can fill in for each other as well as understand what it takes to get every job done. “The more and different jobs you can ...

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