The Making of A Great Retail Store: The Case for Physical Agility (Case Study Great Store or Restaurant 12)

This article was simultaneously published in

Summer has arrived and living outside of San Francisco has many benefits. The weather is warmer and drier and one wishes to go out and do things more often. Today, it is very nice. I really enjoyed my walk to do my laundry and look forward to my other chores. One big event in near future is I can exercise often. My years of experience of years of sport activity and more than a dozen gym memberships has taught a good few things about what works and what does not. Tennis was the plan for last year and remains so for this year for reasons besides this writing. I expect to play tennis casually until I have a routine. Frankly, I just need time with the machine throwing balls twice a week and I am done. That costs $35 a month and club membership is ok but is so far up the hill, it is completely inaccessible. The situation is same as last year and I will deal with soon.

One of the more interesting events of my transfer to this store has been the realization of what I already knew. Sales requires a great deal of energy. I remember Brian Tracy teaching years back how marathoon runners make good sales staff and so on. I have to agree once again. I mentally divide our store into two zones. The front half is our cellular store and the back is electronics hardware store. After a few weeks here, I am once again seeing the same happening again. Our staff may have been trained for retail or not but they tend to stay behind the counter in the retail area waiting to be approached and take an order. Since I am committed to cellular, my mind is in the front half of the store and I constantly find myself there speaking to customers or just fixing displays there. The results are beginning to show in numbers. What is most important is I am convinced one big reason I am the lone attendant of the wireless area except when very busy not only because of old work habits of staff or pure laziness but because physically the sales activities are so demanding. Movement from place to place and energy needed to communicate enthusiastically to customers demands a great deal of energy which many lack. I still think the separation of store into wireless and hardware in a literal sense will fix many problems but regardless the staff of wireless SALES need to be in good physical shape and take care of themselves to have enough stamina for 8 to 10 hours of non-stop movement and speaking. Sales requires energy. I work for a company that is headed by a worldclass endurance athlete and I think this minute but vital point was missed by all higher-ups: Cheap labor has to be in good shape to sell. The strategy of hiring younger people only works if they take care of themselves. Otherwise, they are as useless as any out of shape, poor health and tired old retail clerks. Energy is a vital requirement for high wireless SALES in the long run. Retail clerking (aka retail sales) can go on with any physical condition of cheap labor but sales in a real sense requires abundance of energy. Those with histories, experience and interest in sport activities are most likely to be able to function on par for such demands. Getting in shape is a must for survival and subsequent success and has to be emphasized from top to bottom. Sorting staff and firing them based on what I wrote is a not the answer. Creating a bona fide standard will force everyone to change. If that means they move on, then they will. I think the emphasis is on taking care rather than cosmetics. Endurance makes the difference.


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