Roam Depot Sneakers

An employee motivational meeting was held recently in the lunchroom of a national home improvement supplies retailer.  Here’s part of the store manager’s address, secretly recorded on one employee’s phone:

Manager: “I’ve had some feedback from corporate about our customer service levels.”

(Murmuring from the group.)

Manager: “There such a thing as trying too hard.  And I have to talk about that a bit.  Now, for those of you who’ve been with us a while, this is really just a refresher.  For you newest additions to our team, I’m sure none of this should surprise you by now.”

(Pause, chairs scraping, coughing.)

You Can Do It“In a nutshell, our customer service numbers are…too good.  Frankly, that’s not what drives sales and pays the bills around here.  From these numbers (papers rustling, pause)… we’re spending just a little too much time with the customers.  Now, I know most of you are ‘Sales Associates’, some senior, many junior, but that’s not what your job is really about.  We can’t have you running down the customers.  It’s a big box we’ve got here.  For a reason.  We make it a very big place, and once we get them in, we don’t need to be solving all their problems so that they’ll leave.”

Manager: “Yes, question in the back.”

Unknown: “But if a customer is unsure as to what they need…”

Manager: “Need or want?  Look, there are two types of customers that come in here.  There are those who know what they need and where it is…and we just get in their way when we offer to help them.  Like our contractors.  They know  they know more than we do, and we know it, too.  Generally, they just bee-line to what they need, get it and they’re gone.  These are our ‘baseline’ sales numbers.  Then, there are those who have no idea what they need.  And we need them to wander around and see all the other things we offer.  And soon, what they think they need becomes even more powerful.  It becomes all those things they want.  And that makes for ‘net new’ sales.  Get that customer the right lightbulb or box of nails too soon, and their minds start to wander back to that project at home, and suddenly, any reason to drift about begins to fade, and they’re on their way to a register.”

Unknown: “But sir, my apron says, ‘I put customers FIRST’.”

Manager: “Right!  Exactly!  Nothing’s changed.  You might say ‘I put customers FIRST in line to figure out their problems for themselves’!  That’s what Shopping Cart ‘Do It Yourself’ is all about isn’t it?  Isn’t that where the satisfaction of solving a problem comes from?  Of course, we can’t be rude.  And whatever you do, don’t say, “This isn’t my department”!  If your customer seems distressed, use your radio to call for help in that section.  In a few moments, the operator will echo that call for assistance on the store’s PA system, which will comfort the guest.  We’ve modified your radios so that if you press and hold any key for more than 3 seconds, you’ll be paged to report to the Loading Dock, which sounds important.  Then you can get on with getting away.  Of course, it’s best to not get caught by a customer in the first place.  We need you to always move quickly through the aisles when you’re on the floor.  Our research Kyleshows that the sight of our staff moving smartly along encourages customers to add some distance to their own wanderings…the space doesn’t seem quite as big.  Try to look like you’re going somewhere, preferably carrying some important-looking papers or a manila folder with documents inside. That gives you your best chance of getting away, unmolested.  You’ll find your very own folder with important-looking documents inside your Official ‘Roaman Orientation Kits’, which Randy and Sue will now help me pass out…”

(Sounds of chairs scraping, boxes opening, papers rustling, murmurs, chuckling.)

Hot SneakersManager, continues: “To help keep our focus, corporate is implementing new fringe benefits to keep you moving, starting with your own pair of ‘Roamers’, a sneaker designed just for us, equipped with a GPS chip, so we can track what we’re calling your ‘TDR’ or ‘Total Distance Roamed’.  Those that can keep moving successfully during their shifts will win a share of a new store-wide compensation pool, increased employee discounts and special offers, as well as flex-time, to name a few incentives.  Not to mention keeping you in shape.”

(Murmurs of approval.)Roam Depot Logo

Manager: “And by the way.  We’ve GPS-enabled our carts as well, so we can track the movements of customers through the store.  We can tell by the cart’s movement if the visitor is a pro or a newbie.  If a cart is moving slowly or has stopped for too long, that’s probably a person with a lot of questions, so we can alert you to steer clear of that aisle.”

Unknown: “Sir, does this mean we are no longer Sales Associates?”

Manager: “Between you and me, corporate’s code name for us is ‘Roamans’!  Believe me, no one’s job is in jeopardy.  We need you more than ever.  Look, think for a moment about just one department, plumbing.  Have you looked at all that stuff lately?  Fittings, pipe, PVC, CPVC, adhesives, solder, sprinkler systems, specialty wrenches?  It would take, well, a plumber  to know what all that stuff is for, not to mention how to use all of it properly.  We can’t possibly train you in how to master that aisle.  If we made it a job requirement, we’d be waiting a very long time for applicants to show up.  No matter.  There’s more than enough fork-lift driving and shelf-stocking to keep us all busy.  That takes some skill, and we can train you for that.  And if you can’t do that, there’s plenty of work putting out the scissor gate to keep people at a safe distance…”

Other Unknown: “…and away from us!”Help Yourself

(Riotous laughter.)

 Manager: “Alright!  Okay, that’s enough for now.  Let’s lace up our new sneaks, and get out there, get out of their way…and roam!”