It turns out, the struggling Sears store was located in a bad neighborhood and the workers didn’t want to go out for meals, but the in-house cafeteria had been shuttered long ago and was now a huge, filthy space after years of abandonment.
My friend proposed that if the employees could find someone to run the cafeteria and provide good, reasonably-priced meals, then he would pay to have it restored to working condition. They found a local Italian restauranteur to run the cafeteria, had a grand opening, and the rest is history.
Business boomed. The workers were happy and my friend was named Store Manager of the Year. He was a turn-around artist, indeed.
"Listen to the people. Respect the people," was his secret. The once-struggling, now thriving Sears store began to have parties and other events to make it fun to be a part of the team. Genius, simple straight-from-the-heart genius.
A rising tide floats all boats and, not surprisingly, just the opposite is true. When a category is down for one of the major manufacturers, for whatever reason, it represents opportunity for smaller competitors, but it also results in a loss of sales across the board in the entire category.
A good example of this is happening in the game aisle, as one toy exec reported to me recently. Where Hasbro Games is failing to create product to draw attention to the category, the entire category feels the slump in sales due to inattention on the part of the consumer. That causes a lot of pain for a lot of companies, including ours.
What is the solution?
No one is asking my opinion, of course. However, here at Lund we create a lot of games - games such as Doggie Doo which ‘doo’ create excitement and draw attention to the game category. We have the concepts, we have the technologies, and we can help!
It must be true, as we hear it again and again from credible sources. On the ropes, losing money, Toys R Us's fate hangs in the balance. Toy companies large and small are rooting for the toy retailer's ultimate survival and success, no matter how unlikely that may seem.
An industry without TRU might be a very different landscape altogether, with all the more power and influence being wielded, not to anyone’s benefit, by remaining retailers, Walmart in particular. Why have they found themselves in this situation? Is it self-inflicted or a byproduct of an ever-changing environment, and of our evolving culture? Likely both.
Thank Heavens that last-minute pre-holiday shopping boom happened, but why so late? What does this mean for this year, for the toy industry, for us?
Does it bode well for brick-and-mortar stores, since with just 4, or 3, or 2 days left before a holiday, online retailers just can’t be counted on to deliver absolutely, positively on time those must have toys? Or not?
One explanation offered is that typical toy consumers live busier lives today than ever before. This is likely true, and these consumers put off what they can until they cannot delay any longer.
I am not sure, but I think this shift in mentality, this waiting until the last 4 days before Christmas, is important - significant to the toy industry. I just wish I knew how.
From guest blogger Jessie Mansbacher, Business Manager at Lund and Company
You don't really know who your clients are until you look them in the eyeball. You shake their hands. You glance around their office space. You take mental notes and suddenly the context of your business relationship settles into place in your mind. Then, the possibilities open up.
When you really tune in to your clients, when you spend time with them as they are, in their own environments, you come away with a better sense of who they are and how you can get them what they want. You make a connection, you do better business. And, honestly, you are better able to enjoy the business that you do.
We have been focusing our energy on doing just that the past few months. We have been jet-setting around the country, shaking hands, looking our clients in the eyes, and indefatigably selling our wares. We have looked out upon both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the span of a week. As a result, the span of our own horizon has opened up into an uplifting and hopeful vista of opportunity.
In fact, as I write this we are in the process, at various stages with a number of different companies, of acting on and soliciting just such feedback.
Our clients are very open to hearing of our frustrations in the ineffectiveness of working together, and we are getting in return some great observations from them on their dissatisfactions in working with us.
In some cases I thought we had a very good working relationship and am finding out, not always, and not always so much. We are not perfect, and even less so than I suspected. We can, and will get better.
We are calling this new process "Pushing the Reset Button." It is never too late to get better, and there is no better way than to let our clients tell us how.