Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pump up the Staff

"Time is the friend ofthe wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre."
-     Warren Buffett

The new season seems to finally have arrived. To get your staff pumped up and ready to kick off the next 12 months, plan an inspirational seminar or dinner where everyone is expected to come up with a new and innovational customer service idea and pitch it to the group. Stress thinking outside the box and that there are no bad ideas. Below is a great story to start the meeting.

This story was first related to me by Phil Owenby at Kinloch Golf Club. I have since used it to start every customer service seminar I give to the pro shop staffs I work with. This is a reposting by special request of the first blog entry I posted in this space.

The Story of Johnny the Bagger (as told by Barbara Glanz)

A few years ago, I was hired by a large supermarket chain to lead a customer service program to build customer loyalty. During my speech I said, “Every one of you can make a difference and create memories for your customers and motivate them to come back. Put your personal signature on the job. Think about something you can do for your customers to make them feel special - a memory that will make them come back.
About a month after I had spoken, I received a call from a 19-year-old bagger named Johnny. He proudly informed me that he was a Down syndrome individual and told me his story. “I liked what you talked about!” he said, “but at first I didn’t think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I’m just a bagger. Then I had an idea!”

Johnny said, “Every night after work, I’d come home and find a thought for the day. If I didn’t find a saying I liked, I would think them up.”
When Johnny had a good thought for the day, his dad helped him set it up on the computer and print multiple copies. Johnny cut out each quote & signed his name on the back. Then he’d bring them back to work each day. “When I finish bagging someone’s groceries, I put in the thought for the day and say ‘Thanks for shopping with us!’

It touched me to think that this young man with a job most people would say is not important, had made it important by creating precious memories for all his customers.
A month later the store manager called me and said “You won’t believe what happened. When I was making my rounds today, I found Johnny’s checkout line was three times longer than anyone else’s! It went all the way around the frozen food aisle. So I quickly announced, “we need more cashiers; get more lanes open,” as I tried to get people to change lines. But no one would move! They said, ‘No, its okay - we want to be in Johnny’s lane - we want his ‘Thought for the Day’.”

The store manager continued, “It was a joy to watch Johnny delight the customers. I got a lump in my throat when one woman said, ‘I used to shop at your store once a week, but now I come in every time I go by, because I want to get Johnny’s ‘Thought for the Day’.”

A few months later, the manager called me again. He said, “Johnny has transformed our store. Now when the floral department has a broken flower or an unused corsage, they find an elderly woman or a little girl and pin it on them. Everyone’s having a lot of fun creating memories. Our customers are talking about us - they’re coming back and bringing their friends. A wonderful spirit of service has spread throughout the entire store - and all because Johnny chose to make a difference!”

Johnny’s idea was not nearly as innovative as it was loving. It came from the heart - it was real. That’s what touched his customers, his peers and those who hear this story.
Great service comes from the heart. Will you be a Johnny today?

One thing that will never change is that people patronize those shops that make them feel special and avoid buying from those where they are ignored. Barbara closes her service seminars with the question – “Will you be a Johnny today?” I suggest at the seminars I give, after having told the “Johnny” story, that if a 19 year old with Down syndrome can make such a dramatic difference imagine what this grup should be able to come up with.  Cutting-edge service is a topic we will come back to often as it is clearly every business’s least expensive and most necessary differentiator.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gold Rush

I had an opportunity recently to speak with Larry Mathe who has been designing the Greg Norman Ladies line since fallof 2014. Larry was the founder and former CEO of EP Pro, the leading women's wear company in the green grass industry for over 15 years and his commitment to maintaining market share in the golf market is apparent not only in his conversation but in the look of the most recent line previewed in Orlando for fall of 2015.

Larry, it must be nice to being doing what you love, but being under the radar, so to speak. Why don’t you bring us up to date on recent histories and how your role with the Greg Norman team has evolved?

Craig I see myself as fortunate to be doing something that I have great a passion for and equally fortunate that I am working with a great team of people. The product side of the business is what I enjoy the most and when Mike Setola asked if I would partner with them on the women’s segment of their business it required very little thought on my part.
Shortly after teaming up GNC Robert LaFontant and Nikita Gandhi both from EP became part of the GNC womens team. Needless to say having spent many years working with Robert and Nikita we were able to influence the direction of the ladies product very quickly.

Your reputation in the industry as a leader in ladies apparel precedes you. What do you see as the future of this important part of the business and specifically how do you see the Greg Norman line creating differentiators in golf retail?

The Greg Norman Women’s  brand is a casual lifestyle collection that offers our customer traditional casual sportswear that embraces modern styling, fabrics and fit. While the collection is highly appropriate as golf apparel its greatest appeal is a versatility that allows the customer to feel very comfortable wearing the product in non-golf settings.
A great many of the product offerings in the women’s golf market share a sameness that we try to avoid. The Greg Norman collection is a result of a focus on tasteful and understandable fashion that allows the purchase decision to come without a great deal of effort.

The collections displayed in the booth in Orlando previewing Fall 2015 looked incredible. Have you seen anything lately at the shop level that excites you both in terms of merchandising and/or salesmanship?

While I do spend a fair amount of time on the road visiting shops- I tend to devote as much of my time to shopping retail stores as I find that in terms of design inspiration they have product assortments that offer a greater potential for having an influence on our product direction.
There are many very talented merchants in the golf industry who do a remarkable job-especially in view of the product assortments they have to choose from.

The ladies apparel business is one of the more difficult to manage in most parts of the country. What would be your advice to buyers as to how to maximize this part of their business?

Avoid duplication—how many color blocked polos do you really need to carry?

There are a number of different customer types that visit a shop on a daily basis- You need to find that balance where you can offer variety without spreading yourself too thin with too many vendors—4 to 5 womens vendors should be more than enough depending on the size and type of shop you have. I think a strong argument could be made that if you have a small to medium sized shop and have more than 4 women’s vendors you are over assorted.

The Gold Rush Collection in the fall 2015 Greg Norman Ladies line is black, white and gold and is probably the most sellable group of ladies apparel I have seen in a long time. Larry agreed that it is probaly the best he has produced in a career that has engendered many "bests".

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Woven

In the couple of weeks past, I had occasion to sit in on breakout sessions at the MOY conference, vendor presentations and many meetings with clubs where the subject of the viability of woven shirts comes up as an appropriate category for Golf Shop retail. All the major vendors that cater to the green grass channel have now added the category and of course all golf customers whether they are members of high-end clubs or playing municipals on the weekend wear them most of the time. A fairly traditional button down polo is what is usually implied when the invitation says casual business attire.

That being the case what is being merchandised regardless of the venue could be considered an impulse item in that the customer thinks to himself “I can always use another one of these”, and yet an oft heard comment from golf retailers is “well we tried them and didn’t do well."

So the key to selling this category is obviously to buy the right product and then to choose the proper mode of merchandising for your clientele, for the particular time of year and for the traffic pattern in your space. 

Giving your customer an opportunity to buy good quality brand name oxford basics is a good starting point when thinking of building a display – but just like selling white and khaki hats the display needs color to get the customer’s attention. The stripes, ginghams, and glen plaids are the interest arsenal and then you should consider the “gotta” have it because I can’t describe it piece where the only thing that comes to the mind of the shopper is “I don’t have one of those."

Table displays with bust forms layered with lifestyle pieces; vests, shirts and ties put together in gift boxes with tissue, and small tasteful logos on the left cuff are all important considerations. If the club logo doesn’t reduce well to a size appropriate for dress shirts use just the name of the club embroidered in script or the club font.

Make all of this effort very visible – perhaps a round table in front of the counter and don’t give up on it if it doesn’t take off immediately – it is a category worth showing dedication to and developing, it is a staple that your member/customer should be thinking of your shop as a resource for.