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Grandfather’s Wisdom

Back in 2008 I interviewed my grandfather, Phil Conley, who, along with my grandmother Esther, founded Toy House, Inc. back in 1949.  Check out this exchange about Customer Service and return policies…

Phil Wrzesinski: But, as far as the competition, did you give them [competitors] as much mind or did you say, “We’re going to do our own thing and let them worry about them and we’ll worry about us”?

Phil Conley: Well, I was worrying about us. I wasn’t worrying about them. I didn’t worry about them. They can do what they want, but we wanted to do what we want, the right way, and that is give service, give price, good selection. The other thing, at Hudson’s, they had a very liberal policy. You could take stuff back and get credit, but you might have to go up a floor or down a floor. I wanted to do it better and so I empowered [the staff], in the early days, and it always went, that if there was a complaint the salesperson could make an adjustment then. The adjustment could be “refund the money” or… whatever would satisfy them.

PW: They had the empowerment to do that.

PC: Yes. It would be easier to return something than it was to buy it, because what I know, at Hudson’s [doing a return], it took you an hour or a half hour to go to the other floor, that’s when you’re not going to be spending money. You’re going to be trying to get money. It should be easier to [make a return].

PW: Don’t waste your time. We want you shopping.  You’re here at the store. We want you to spend as much of it shopping.

PC: Yes. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.

PW: Wonder how many of these stores get that today?

PC: Well, don’t you?

PW: Well, I think I do.  We do our returns right up front at the register. A lot of other stores you’ve got to go to the back. You have to go wait in line.

PC: Do you empower your people?

PW: Oh, yeah. They take care of it. I rarely have to deal with any returns.

PC: Well, it’s just common sense, for Christ’s sakes.  Somebody comes in your store and they’re unhappy, make them happy quick! Then get on to sell them some more. Isn’t that right?

Now you know where I got all my retail smarts.  Thanks, Gramps!

Phil Wrzesinski

PS  Let me know if you would like more of Phil Conley’s wisdom.  He gave me a few good nuggets and a few interesting stories in our interview.

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