Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"We went into the backwoods and paid the price for it"

Legendary retailer Harry Rosen answers readers' questions in this month's PROFIT Magazine. All part of the magazine's new "Ask the Legends" feature.

Here are two sample questions and answers that I liked.

You have locations across the country, but you provide service that one would only expect at a small, family-owned store. How do you still make each customer believe they are the most important one you have?
Catherine Proulx, Managing Partner, twistmarketing, Calgary

Harry: From the very first day, it has been our intention to befriend the customer. We try to enter into some sort of personal relationship with them, where we learn something about them and always use that information to help sell them the right things. As we expanded, I would go from store to store and work on the selling floor. It meant so much to the staff to see that the principles we espoused in training were in fact the practices of senior management. That's the glue: management walking the talk. We've also been able to select the kind of employee who enjoys living by this idea that there's nothing more important than the customer.

If you could change a business decision you made in the past, what would it be and why?
Lorne Merkur, PresidentAdwear + Promostuff, Toronto

Harry: When we were well positioned in the seven major markets in Canada, I felt that there wasn't any further growth available and decided that the place to start in the United States was Chicago. I found a location that was right on the Miracle Mile, with Saks Fifth Avenue in the other part of the building. Midstream, the developer sold it off to another developer, who wanted to renegotiate after I had already come to a verbal agreement with the previous developer. I walked away in spite and wound up going into Buffalo. If we'd gone ahead with Chicago, it would have altered the whole future of Harry Rosen in the U.S. Instead of that, we went into the backwoods and paid the price for it.

Click here for the rest.

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