Is it coaching?

img_1763I was straightening up my workspace this morning and ran across a sample of a coaching log.  The log had been developed by an experienced and talented store manager working for the company I worked at many years.

It was well produced with 50 pages to record when a manager coached and employee. I really liked the playbook and I hope that it improved coaching for the managers and their employees.  Perhaps it lead to better sales, improved service or more effective and efficient employees.

 

This was not the only coaching log that I saw while I working  in retail management and training.  In fact, I probably saw 50 different versions over the years.  But this one was a good one.

The reason why I bring this up is that it has been my experience that there is no correlation between good coaching  and the use of a coaching log.

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It’s magical

Disney storefront

It had been some time since I had visited a Disney Store so when I passed by one the other day I had to stop in.

I wandered through the store checking out how the Star Wars brand has been woven into the Disney merchandising, listening in on customer interactions and observing the joy that the customers exhibited in visiting a little slice of the happiest place on Earth.  Finally, I ended my explorations at the back of the store drawn towards a small crowd gathered there.  There were a dozen people around plush mountain watching the video wall on the back of the store.

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The Ledge & Yeti’s Lair -Klamath Falls, OR

One of the joys of a good road trip is getting well away from the interstates and onto the blue highways of William Least-Heat Moon fame. It is on just such roads that my wife and I found ourselves on a recent trip to Death Valley.

Klamath Grill (highly recommended for breakfast or lunch)

Klamath Grill (highly recommended for breakfast or lunch)

As we drove through southern Oregon, the clock was approaching lunchtime and we were beginning to feel a bit hungry when we heard a radio ad for the Klamath Grill on Main Street in Klamath Falls.  The ad made it sound like a great local place to stop for lunch. We were not disappointed.

This breakfast and lunch spot serves up a nice variety of diner favorites along with some chef specialities such as Swedish Pancakes, Dutch Babies and a Cranberry Club Sandwich.

Waiting for my Huevos con Chorizo to arrive, I picked up a table topper to read.  Anyone who has eaten at a small town diner might recognize these simple booklets with local history, bad jokes, trivia and area advertisements to read while waiting for your food.

As I was reading through the booklet, I ran across a reference to the “only solar-powered outdoor store in the US”, The Ledge.  Checking my phone, I discovered the store was only several blocks from the diner. So we decided we would walk over to the store and take a look around before heading on to Tule Lake and Susanville.

The Ledge

The Ledge

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I sent him away

He was timid, reserved and soft-spoken.  We have all run across this type of customer before.  It’s challenging to get them to warm up to you, they can be slow to offer information and they can even be hard to hear.

I greeted him and asked him what brought him into the store today.  A rather defensive “I just came in to look” was his response.  So I told him to look around and that I would check back in a few minutes if he ran across any questions and then I set off to help others who had just entered the store.

As I circled back to him after a few minutes, it was clear to me that he that he truly was looking for something specific as he studied the hang tags and pulled garments off racks to look at. It seems that he had needed some time to decompress and check things out on his own terms when he first entered our store.  I re-approached him.

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The “Expert” – Part 2

bigstock-the-words-hello-i-am-an-expert-36518137

This second post on working with experts looks at the customer that perhaps grossly over-estimates their knowledge, is mistaken or is just plain wrong.

Marshall Field supposedly said “The customer is always right.” This is a great way to proceed with your customers unless they are wrong.

In these situation, you can turn to Aleister Crowley and his less famous quote for guidance “The customer is usually wrong but statistics indicate that it doesn’t pay to tell him so.”  So, what do you do when the customer is wrong?  The key when working with pseudo-experts is to be patient, gentle and respectful.

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Is it the end or just a correction?

The former Six Flags Mall in Arlington TX by Timcdfw from WikiCommons

A headline in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer proclaimed  “The retail apocalypse has officially descended on America.”  Quite a dire news story.  While the news is of some concern given the shear number of store closures and the job loses they represent, it does not reflect the end or apocalypse of retail.  Part of the contraction that we are seeing is the continuing trend of shoppers buying on-line: but another significant issue is the glut of retail space.

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Kudos to Freddy’s

I lived most of my life in the Midwest. So when I finally caught up with some friends by moving to the PNW, they excitedly shared their love for Fred Meyer, a regional chain owned by Kroger.  There are amazing places similar to  SuperTarget or Walmart Supercenters.  But truth be told, I really never became a regular customer.

But on our recent road trip, we stopped at a Fred Meyer for some supplies and I was reminded of one thing that I, even someone who has never had children, appreciate in the larger Fred Meyer stores, Freddy’s Playland.

Freddy’s Playland is a drop-off day care offering an hour of free care for children 2 to 5 while their parent(s) do their shopping.  What a great service and something that keeps Fred Meyer customers loyal.  Kudos.

R.I.P. Royal

 

By Pat Ament from WikiCommons

Royal Robbins passed away Tuesday in Modesto CA.

Robbins was a one of the climbers from the Golden Age of Yosemite climbers.  In 1968, he and his wife Liz Burkner opened Royal Robbins Mountain Shop in Modesto and later created the  clothing company that also bore his name.

I had the chance to meet Royal at a trade show in the 1980s.  It was his humble nature during our meeting that reminds me that in retailing it is not about you but it is about the customer.  Rest in peace Royal.