Home » Staff Training

Category: Staff Training

Is Collaboration Really the Problem?

I read an article that caught my eye in Inc. Magazine with the title “Collaboration Creates Mediocrity, Not Excellence, According to Science”. You read that title and you will believe that grand studies have now been done to prove that collaboration is a bad thing. Then you read the article and find out there is no science. There really isn’t even a good definition of “collaboration”.

Image result for inc magazine

Here is how the article defines collaboration…

“1) plenty of ad-hoc meetings and 2) open-plan offices that increase the likelihood that that such meetings take place.”

Really? That’s what passes for collaboration in corporate America? Floor plans that are conducive to more meetings?

I read the article, especially the “science” part of it and instead of seeing a problem with collaboration I saw a serious lack of good management. Here is what the science part had to say…

The problem is that rather than seeing a top performer as a role models, mediocre employees tend to see them as threats, either to their own position in the company or to their own feelings of self-worth.

Rather than improving their own performance, mediocre employees socially isolate top performers, spread nasty rumors about them, and either sabotage, or attempt to steal credit for, the top performers’ work. As the study put it: “Cooperative contexts proved socially disadvantageous for high performers.”

A good manager would have nipped that in the bud a long time ago. A good manager would have found ways to keep top performers at their peak while raising the level of mediocre employees. A good manager would have found ways to utilize the individual strengths of everyone on the team so that everyone felt like a valued contributor. A good manager would have created a team where everyone was working toward the success of the collective rather than individual success (while celebrating the individual accomplishments along the way).

I read that article (and the subsequent link to the study that used hair salons?? as their subject material) and came to a different conclusion.

Open floor plans do not lead to great collaboration. Then again neither do closed floor plans. And collaboration by itself without strong management and solid team building doesn’t work either. None of those address the true issue.

Collaboration works incredibly well. But only when you have the right manager in place, someone trained to build teamwork and communication and trust. 

How do I know? I’ve worked for managers like that. I’ve led teams of high productivity and high levels of collaboration. It all comes down to the skills of the manager.

That’s why I’m offering the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop next Wednesday, April 26th.  You’ll learn how to lead your team to their peak performance. You’ll learn how to create a culture that has everyone working on the same page for the same goals. You’ll learn how to motivate your team to do their best. You’ll learn how to set up training programs that turn everyone into top performers. You’ll learn all that in one incredibly fun day.

The class is limited to the first 18 people to sign up. Follow this link to sign up today.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Do you wish you could attend but can’t make the trip to Jackson? Contact me and we’ll figure out a plan to bring this workshop to you.

Who Would You Blame?

Overheard in a shoe store the other day…

Customer: “Ma’am, do you have this style shoe in a brown?”

Clerk: “I don’t know what we have or don’t have. I just work here.”

My first thought when I heard this was, “You won’t be working here for long with that attitude.” Then it dawned on me. Someone hired this person. Someone hired this clerk, “trained” her (I use the term loosely), and scheduled her to work on a busy Saturday. This clerk who shows no initiative to learn, shows no empathy or caring, shows no desire to serve, went through an application and interview process. This clerk got hired, filled out paperwork, and learned how to run a cash register.

Who is to blame?

My first reaction was to blame the clerk for her lack of desire to do her job. But then again, the clerk needed a job and did what she needed to do to get that job. The manager who hired her failed in finding the right person to fill that job. So maybe you could blame the manager.

But in the manager’s defense, you have to know… Was the manager ever trained on hiring skills? Was the manager ever trained on how to teach? Does the manager have a training program in place for new hires? Does the manager have training on how to motivate the staff to get the most productivity out of them? Does the manager have the authority to create her own programs for training and motivation if her higher-ups don’t have those for her?

I read articles on the retail industry every day. I read about CEO’s of major retail chains talking how they are implementing plans to increase customer service, focus more on the customer, become customer-centric, etc. But then I hear, “I don’t know. I just work here.” Where in the chain of command is the breakdown?

I want you to do a quick exercise right now. Write this down on a piece of paper. Don’t overthink it. Just write down the first number that pops into your head.

  • What percentage of your customers are “repeat customers”? What percentage of the people that come through your door today have been in your store before? Write it down.
  • What percentage of your customers are “referral customers”? This is their first visit, but they came to you because one of your repeat customers told them to visit you. Write it down.

That first number is a measure of how good your customer service truly is. If you have great customer service, if you meet your customers’ expectations at every turn, then you will have a high amount of repeat business.

That second number is a measure of how well you exceed your customers’ expectations. Remember that word-of-mouth comes when you go above and beyond what people expect to surprise and delight them.

Add those two numbers together. Subtract that from 100 and you have the percentage of your customers that are advertising-driven.

If you are like most indie retailers, the first two numbers are far greater than the last number. Yet, if you are like most retailers, you probably spend way more money on advertising than you do on training. You might want to rethink that.

Next Wednesday, April 26 I will be doing a one-day workshop in Jackson specifically for managers. This SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop will teach managers how to teach. It will teach managers how to better communicate. It will teach managers how to build a team. It will teach managers how to set up and implement training programs for new employees. It will teach managers how to set up and implement ongoing training to keep the staff at peak performance. Your store will only rise to the ability of your manager. Make your manager great!

Space is limited for this class. Sign up now.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I would fire the shoe store clerk. Although her lack of training probably isn’t her fault, she doesn’t have the right personality traits for the job. I would then spend a lot of time working with the manager who did the hiring to make sure she knows how to hire and how to train so that the above conversation never happens again.

The Power of the Smile Story

Every staff meeting started with “Smile Stories”, moments since the last meeting when we did what we set out to do and made the customer smile. Some of my staff wrote notes to themselves to remember all the stories. Others wrote notes to each other to remind them of their stories. At some meetings we spent three or four minutes sharing stories. At other meetings we spent ten or fifteen minutes. I never capped the time on this part of the meeting. It was too important.

Toy House Character Diamond and Core Values
The Toy House Character Diamond – our Core Values that drove our business.

The Smile Stories served multiple purposes.

First, they kicked off the meeting on a positive note. When you open a meeting with good news, it makes the people in attendance more open to listening and sharing. When you open with bad news you put people on defense and they clam up. So always start your meetings with something to celebrate.

Second, the Smile Stories got everyone into a sharing mood. If your meeting is simply for the purpose of telling people something, don’t meet. Send out a memo or an email. The reason you bring people together to meet is to allow for give and take, back and forth, engagement with your audience. Our Smile Stories got the staff engaged and talking early on, which always led to more engagement when we got into the training segment of the meeting.

Third, the Smile Stories reinforced our purpose. Our stated purpose for Toy House was, “We’re here to make you smile.” When we celebrated Smile Stories, it was clear to the staff why we were there and what we were supposed to do.

Fourth, the Smile Stories reinforced the training the staff had already received. When we shared stories of how we made customers smile, we were using concrete examples from which others could learn. Often the staff would even mention how a technique we discussed at a previous meeting worked well for them. Often within a story I would find a teachable moment that I could use to strengthen what we were already learning.

The first step for making your meetings with your team better is to figure out your “Smile Stories”. Find that and you will see your meetings, training, and productivity start to rise.

I’ll be covering this and a whole bunch of other tools for making your meetings something your staff looks forward to attending at the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop on April 26th. Looking forward to seeing you there.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Stories are more memorable than facts and figures. My new book coming out later this spring cites numerous studies that show how we remember the feelings we get from stories as if we lived them ourselves. Stories are also better teachers. It is no surprise Jesus spoke in parables. We learn best by example. Stories are concrete examples of abstract principles and ideas. We’ll also be covering the power of the story in this workshop.

 

Retail Sales Training (or the Lack Thereof)

I took over the hiring of employees at Toy House in the fall of 1995. My dad never really liked the job. I quickly found out why. We would hire 10 or more seasonal employees every fall and try to train them up to our customers’ expectations in just a couple short weeks. Finding good quality people wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The first year I did it, I sucked. Out of ten seasonal employees, I had two good ones, six warm bodies, and two that would be better off if they just stayed home. Not a good record.

I don’t like to be bad at anything so I started reading books on hiring. The first one I read was the Harvard Business Essentials book you see here.

The title was exactly what I wanted. I read the book cover to cover. The most important point they kept coming back to in the book was this…

“The number one factor is experience.”

So I spent the next few years hiring for experience. I only hired people who had worked retail before. And for the next few years my results were exactly the same – two good ones, six warm bodies and two people who need to go home. Yes, it was the definition of insanity.

So how could Harvard Business Essentials and all the other books I read that said the same thing be so wrong? They were making the one HUGE assumption that constant training happened to everyone everywhere. Maybe that is true in many service jobs, but continual training is lacking in the retail sector. Heck, many large chains hardly do any new employee training. One of my former employees went to a large national chain and reported back that after learning how to use the time clock there was zero training other than criticism when you did something wrong.

Untrained employees who have to learn the job on their own will never rise above their personality traits. 

I did two things that changed my results each fall. First I started hiring for personality traits. Second, I implemented both a more thorough new-hire training program and a monthly training session for the current staff. The quality of my new hires went up dramatically. More importantly, so did the quality of my entire staff.

If your competitors were training their staff regularly and you weren’t, what kind of advantage would they have over you? Now switch that around. Most of your competitors are not offering the kind of sales training they should be. But you could. Most of the managers at your competitors don’t even know how to train their employees. But you could.

One of the best compliments I ever received was from a former employee who went to work for Disney. She came back and reported that the highly regarded Disney Institute for customer service reminded her of all the training she did at Toy House. She said, “They pretty much teach all the same stuff you do.”

The best way to learn what I teach and how I teach it is to sign up for the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop happening April 26th.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The second best compliment I ever received happened the day we announced we were closing Toy House. I received more than one phone call from other businesses wondering what would happen to my employees and when they would be available because, “we know what kind of people you employ.” Believe me, I didn’t employ such great people by accident. I learned from my mistakes twenty years ago.

PPS Since none of the other books on Hiring talked about hiring for personality traits, I decided to write my own. It is called Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art. The book outlines what you should do. The workshop shows you how to do it.

What is Your Food Name?

My father is 100% Polish. My mother is mostly English. For about three straight years, however, I was Italian. Everyone called me Phil Pepperoni. No it wasn’t because of my fondness for a certain doughy, saucy, meaty culinary delight. No it wasn’t because I was extra cheesy (okay maybe a little). It was because of a game I played at the start of every group I ever worked with in a Team Building situation.

It was a simple name game. We stood in a circle and each person had to come up with a food that started with the first letter of their first name. I would always start by calling myself Phil Pepperoni. The trick here was the person to my left had to say my name and food and then his or her own name and food. The next person started with me, then the person to my left, and then their name and food so on and so forth until the person on my right had to try to remember every single name (and food) in the entire circle.

This game was a great ice breaker that worked to set the tone on many levels.

First, it helped me get to know all their names. If they didn’t know each other, it helped them get to know everyone’s names, too. Names are powerful. Calling someone by their name creates a stronger bond that helps people learn to trust each other.

Second, it forced people to be creative. Since we were going to be talking and thinking and being creative throughout the day, getting them talking and thinking and being creative right off the bat made it easier as the day went on. Some people really have to be creative in this game, especially if your name is Xavier or you are the fourth Kristen in the circle. (Think about it.)

Third, it gave people a chance to shed an old image and start a new persona. On an established team there are already roles and perceptions and labels that inhibit true teamwork. By giving yourself a new name, you get to shed the other labels and be seen in a different light. Instead of being Fred the Whipping Boy, you get to be Fred Filet Mignon.

Fourth, it taught lessons such as the power of repetition. No one forgot the food name of the person to my left because everyone in the circle had to say it. But the person on my right had to work hard to keep her food name on everyone’s minds.

Fifth, it taught the power of listening instead of just waiting to speak. Many times people would be so focused on what they were going to say that they forgot to listen to the person who went just before them.

Sixth, it got people to laugh. Strong emotions such as laughter help ideas become stickier in our brains. The moments we remember in our lives almost always are associated with strong emotions of Love, Laughter, Hope, Gratitude, Fear, or Anger. I have had people run into me years after doing a Team Building event and immediately say. “Hi Phil Pepperoni!” 

Seventh, it helped identify who were the leaders in the group who paid attention, remembered names, and helped others out. Plus it helped identify who needed to be coaxed into doing things, who had discomfort in group settings and discomfort in being in the spotlight and would need extra attention to make sure they didn’t get trampled throughout the day by more powerful personalities.

Eighth, it gave people a reinforcement of the team building lessons when everyone got back to the office. One manager told me people were still using their food names months later. Another told me that they finally had a great way to tell Michelle Maple Syrup apart from Michelle Mango apart from Michelle Mustard apart from Michelle Minestrone.

And you thought it was just a silly game to learn their names.

-Phil Pepperoni (Wrzesinski)
www.PhilsForum.com

PS We’ll be playing this game and whole bunch of other games, plus learning how to lead them and use them to build a stronger team at the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop on Wednesday, April 26th. This is a Jackson Retail Success Academy™ event in association with Spring Arbor University for anyone who manages three or more people. There are still spaces available.

Talent, Practice, and Luck

One day I would love to go to The Masters in Augusta, GA. I have watched it on TV so many times that I know every green instantly before the announcers even tell me the hole. I love golf. Love to play it, love to watch it. Especially this tournament.

These guys are amazing!

Image result for the masters

I have played golf all my life. I know it takes three things to be successful at golf – Talent, Practice, and Luck. Then again, you can say that about pretty much everything.

Talent in business is the skills you hire.

Practice is the training and preparation you offer.

As the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Unfortunately many businesses, especially retailers, think the only preparation they need to offer is training for new hires. That would be the equivalent of trying to play The Masters after six weeks of golf lessons. Not enough preparation for the opportunity.

That’s why part of the focus of the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop I’m offering on April 26th includes creating an ongoing training program to help your staff be better prepared for the opportunities that arise. Talent alone won’t win the day. Experience alone won’t make you lucky.

If you manage three or more people, this workshop will bring you the kind of luck that wins major championships. Sign up today!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, I would take tickets to a future Masters golf tournament as barter for my services. I already know where I would stay and what I would do on the course.

The Team, The Team, The Team

If you know me well, you know I’m a Wolverine. Been one since the day my grandfather took me to The Big House at seven years old. It was the only university I applied to attend. If you know the University of Michigan and follow their football team, you’ve heard the immortal words of the late, great football coach Bo Schembechler, “The Team, The Team, The Team,”

Heck, if you’re a sports fan of any team, whether it is women’s gymnastics or men’s lacrosse or anywhere in between, you understand the power of teamwork and cooperation and working together as one unit. Ask any coach in America and they’ll take amazing teamwork over individual stardom every day.

Image result for bo schembechler the team

Why is teamwork that is so important on the playing field so neglected in the workplace?

I used to work on a team for the Los Angeles Unified School District. There were five of us on the team and each week we worked with inner-city LA teenagers at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Facility in the Angeles National Forest north of the city. We did team building exercises with these kids. We taught them about nature and an outdoors they rarely experienced back home. We had bears foraging our dumpster, snakes slithering under our cabins, and coyotes howling at the moon.

And we had a Team.

At our staff meeting before each group arrived, we discussed who would lead each activity. That was the only person assigned any task. It was naturally assumed that the other four people would do everything else to support the activity and make sure the entire event was successful.

Now, on some teams, this might be a recipe for disaster. If something doesn’t get done, there would be plenty of people to step up and say, “Not my job.” The NMJ’s are killers to productivity and morale.

On our team, because we were hyper-focused on the experience we offered these adolescents, that was never the case. If one of us saw a job undone, we did it. Period. Everything was our job. There was never any resentment because we all had each other’s back and we all had the overall success of our guests as our goal. It was the most amazing work experience of my life, one I still think about to this day.

What made the difference?

When we weren’t leading team building exercises with the kids we were doing team building exercises with each other. We were all experienced at leading these exercises so we spent the summer creating new exercises to try with the kids. We tried them out with each other first. Our leader, Dana (he was a top-level college wrestler in the ’80’s, would love to find him again but I can’t remember his last name), worked with us all the time on communication, cooperation, problem-solving and trust – the core elements of any team building.

It made a difference for us. More importantly, it made a difference for our students (customers, clients, guests…).

This is why I am leading the all-day workshop SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS here in Jackson on April 26th. I want to teach you Team Building skills so that you can build your team to this level.

If you manage three or more people, you have a team. That team needs a foundation in teamwork that you can bring to the table through what you train and how you train. This workshop will show you how to do it the right way.

Space is limited. Sign up today!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Our team disbanded when the LA Unified school teachers went on strike in October 1992. When we headed down the mountain after our last group, we didn’t know it would be the last time we saw each other. I headed back to Michigan and joined a new team that was as dysfunctional as my previous team had been functional. The difference? Leadership. Be your team’s Leader by learning how to build your Team.

Spotlight on Managerial Success – The Class!

You’ve hired a manager. Someone to help you run the day-to-day operations of your business. Someone to be in charge when you aren’t there. Someone to handle personnel issues and make sure all the tasks like stocking, straightening, cleaning, and serving the customers gets done. Someone to schedule (and train) the staff. Someone to give you the free time to do your jobs of buying inventory and drawing traffic and crunching numbers and plotting strategy.

You want a manager who is Reliable, Hard-Working, and Decisive.
You want a manager who is Compassionate, Empathetic, and Service-Oriented.
You want a manager who can build a Team, Communicate Effectively, Teach and Resolve Conflicts.

They have to bring some of those skills to the table. That last line of skills can be taught.

Here is the program I have designed to teach those teachable skills to you and/or your managers.

First we’ll start off the morning by doing some Team Building exercises, both to break the ice, and to show you how to incorporate such exercises into your training programs. You’ll learn a handful of activities you can run yourself, including how to choose the right activity for the level of your group, the steps necessary to build a team the right way, and the techniques used to apply the lessons from the activities to the actual workplace. This is the stuff big corporations pay big bucks for. This is the stuff I did almost exclusively in the late 80’s and early 90’sand incorporated into all my staff trainings over the years at Toy House.

Second, we’ll spend some time doing Communication exercises that help you become a better listener and a better, more clear communicator. You’ll learn how to make yourself easier to understand, how to persuade people to see your point of view, and how to get your directions followed more precisely. Poor communication is most often the cause of breakdowns of teams. It starts with you. Get this right and you have won more than half the battle.

That will get us to lunch. We’ll take a break.

After lunch we’ll delve into identifying and fixing problems. You’ll learn how to settle Conflicts between staff members that makes everyone feel valued. You’ll learn how to get others to buy-in to your philosophies and ways of doing things. (You’ll learn skills that top FBI negotiators use to always get their way even while creating a win-win situation.) Plus, you’ll learn how to keep your team motivated to do their best work. Here’s a big hint – money is not the only or even the best motivator. In fact it ranks fourth. You’ll learn the other three in this class.

Finally, you’ll design your own training programs both for new hires and for continued training & development of your current team. You’ll learn skills that help you Teach in a way that everyone remembers. Some people are born to teach. Others have to learn. You can learn.

If you are the owner and you have a manager…

Ask yourself how much time you would save having a manager trained in those skills.
Ask yourself how many headaches you would save having a manager trained in those skills.
Ask yourself how much money you would save having a manager trained in those skills.
Ask yourself, would you be willing to give up your manager for just one day to save all that time and money and headaches?

The first SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS class will be in Jackson, MI on Wednesday, April 26 from 8am to 4pm.

Because this is the inaugural class, the regular price of $250/business has been lowered to only $50/person. Yes, only $50/person!

I am offering it through the Jackson Retail Success Academy™ in association with Spring Arbor University. The class will take place in the Hosmer Center for Entrepreneurship at the SAU Downtown Jackson campus. (Take this class and you’ll become a JRSA™ Alumni which gets you discounted pricing on many other JRSA™ offerings.)

Space is limited to the first 18 people to register. Click here to sign up today.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If you’re not in Jackson or can’t easily get to Jackson, get in touch and we’ll figure out how to do this training closer to your home.

PPS If you’re not sure if you should take this class, answer this question. Do you manage three or more people? If you said Yes, take this class.

Training for Store Managers

My trip through the malls recently has me wondering… Where is the true breakdown in the staff training? You can start with the store managers since ultimately they are responsible for training the frontline staff, but that begs the question. Are those managers properly trained to be a store manager? In a chain store you could ask the same question of district managers and regional managers all the way up to the top. (In an independent retailer there is only you and/or your store manager – are either of you trained for that role?)

According to the National Retail Federation, there are approximately 3.9 million retail establishments in the United States employing almost 29 million people. If you consider that each one of those stores has either a store manager or an owner/operator working as the manager, that means there are at least 3.9 million people in the United States who have the role of manager (and likely another three or four million assistant managers). 

Hammond Hardware 2015 Jackson Retail Success Academy

What training are you giving yourself or your managers?

Are you training your managers on Communication Skills so that they can better relate to and communicate with the staff?
Are you training your managers on Teaching Skills so that they can better share what they know with the staff?
Are you training your managers on Team Building techniques so that they can create a better team culture?
Are you training your managers on Conflict Resolution so that they can keep harmony on the team without just firing someone every time there is a problem (or worse, just sweeping it under the rug)?

Would you send your manager to an all-day workshop that covered those skills? (Would you attend a workshop like that yourself?)

Managers may or may not be in the position to make the decisions on advertising, hiring and firing, and inventory. But the one thing all managers do is manage people. The “soft skills” like Communication, Team Building and Conflict Resolution are necessary for managers to be successful, but are brutal to learn by trial and error. They need to be taught.

You should be hiring managers who already bring the traits of Compassion, Empathy, Leadership, and a Service Mentality. You can train all the rest.

I am developing a program just for managers that teaches those soft skills. How much would that be worth to your business?

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I’ll be doing this program here in Jackson first to fine-tune it before taking it on the road. Let me know what it would be worth to do such a training in your town.

Only One Out of Fourteen Said Hello

Over the last few weeks I’ve visited some big malls. Call it field research. These malls have been busy, packed with customers. These malls are also packed with stores you’ve read about that are struggling and closing locations around the country. I saw a fair amount of Going Out of Business signs. One mall is losing its Macy’s. Another has a Sears and a JC Penney as anchors. I’m sure the leasing agents are nervous.

In my last two trips I visited fourteen stores in those malls.

Only one greeted me with a sincere hello.

Only one made me feel welcome and tried to connect with me instead of bombard me with sales pitches. Only one asked me a question that wasn’t a version of “Can I help you?” or “What brings you in?”. Heck, some of them never interacted with me at all.

The traffic was there in the mall. The mall owner had done his job. The food court and the Starbucks seemed to be making sales. But there were a lot of other sales being left on the table by the untrained sales teams.

Here is a quick recap of the experience…

Six of the stores never greeted me at all. I entered the store. Looked around. Touched a couple items. Walked out. No one said hello or hi or welcome or thanks for coming in. It wasn’t that these stores were necessarily busy. Maybe they were a bit understaffed, but there are still ways to teach your staff to greet new customers even when engaged with someone. Maybe they couldn’t afford enough staff because they weren’t training their staff how to sell. Either way, I left feeling neglected.

Five of the stores greeted me with some form of,  “Can I help you?” or “What brings you in?” In all five cases I responded with the two words you never want a customer to say – Just Looking. I verbalized out loud that I was NOT there to buy. I told everyone including myself I was only browsing.

One store shoved a coupon in my hand for 20% off their already 40% off discounted prices. I guess they don’t value their merchandise very highly. Or maybe they could see I was a transactional customer and needed that little push to get me to pull the trigger? Oh wait. How could they know that considering they hadn’t asked me a single question? I will give this store credit in that every single person on their team approached me at least once during my walk through their store. They had a willingness and desire to sell, if not the actual training on how to do it properly. As misguided as it was, at least it was better than the indifference other stores had shown.

Only one store, however, greeted me with a sincere hello. This gal greeted me as if I had just entered her house. She was in the process of straightening up a display. She stopped, greeted me with enthusiasm, and started a conversation. Pretty soon we were sharing stories of trips to Florida and Phoenix and anywhere warmer than Detroit. Shortly after that I was asking her questions about product that wasn’t just, “Do you have this size in back?” We were engaged in conversation. We were engaged in getting to know each other. When she offered to show me something new she was excited about, I immediately said Yes!  I learned about a product I never would have known otherwise, never would have searched for online, never would have considered if she hadn’t first made a connection.

That is the “shopping experience” customers visiting malls and shopping centers and downtowns are craving. That is the shopping experience that gets people to come back and bring their friends. That is the shopping experience that makes your cash registers ring. Everything else is just a transaction, more easily done on a computer.

The traffic is there. You just need to connect.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If you were counting, there was one store I didn’t mention. Actually it was a food kiosk. If you run a food kiosk that regularly has a line of customers, can you please make it obvious where the line starts and how it should form? Please? Don’t make me guess where to stand. Don’t make me guess where to place the order. Don’t make me stand where people have to keep cutting through me to get past me.