SINMAG knows the challenges that face the retail sector have never been so great, and most if not all retailers are constantly on the lookout for a point of difference, whether it is in the products they sell, pricing or level of service.
The retail sector is also full of owner operators that are constantly challenged by being under- resourced, namely time poor. The ability for the owner to understand the customer’s wants, needs and perceptions are generally filtered through their own experience, so it’s no surprise that mystery shopper experiences and reports have become part of a manager’s toolkit.
Michelle Pascoe is the Managing Director of ‘OOPS’. ‘OOPS’ which stands for ‘Optimum Operating Procedures & Services’ employs some 80 staff of varying ages and backgrounds that detail their experiences with businesses as broad a car sales yards to registered clubs to child care centres. Known nationally and internationally as a professional speaker, as well as being a consultant in customer service and leadership training, Michelle was kind enough to share some of her thoughts with SINMAG on her own experiences with the surf retail industry and the importance of being a good communicator and presenter.
Michelle, "… the ability for business to work in a cooperative way in these seasonal locations is key to their ongoing success".
Thanks for your time today Michelle, what are your thoughts on surf shops?
I spend a lot of my downtime on the coast, in particular on the Central Coast of NSW, and love seeing how much the area there has evolved. The surf shops, cafés and caravan parks seem to have gotten together to work on how they can deliver a good experience for their customers and get them coming back for more.
What sort of experiences?
The area has become a real café culture, with early openers meaning to get a good seat you’ve got to be there early. The surf clubs have turned their old sheds into places to be. What used to be a closed off world from the surf lifesaving movement unless you were a part of it has been opened up greatly by the clubs reinventing themselves. Families can now come along and enjoy the ‘to die for views’ of the water without costing an arm and a leg.
How do you think this ‘reinvention’ took place?
By building stronger relations with the community through better facilities, better promotion and communications of what they do and creating a family environment. This often results in children joining nippers and parents lending a hand at volunteering which turns into a benefit for everybody… a community benefit.
Even surfers like their coffee, so buying a cake of wax and going next door for a caffeine fix means the café culture is not only for families or ‘city slickers’?
Exactly. Businesses will lose out in these locations if they think they can do it on their own. They need to work together to get people coming back by providing not just a caffeine fix, but good quality coffee and food that is consistent, and by operating during the hours you should expect to see surfers and families to be out and about.
And the service component?
The service component is number 1. In days gone by I would walk into a surf shop to buy my daughter something, only to feel self-conscious that I really shouldn’t be there as I didn’t seem to have the surfer look. You think I went back to the same store? Like I mentioned earlier, the ability for business to work in a cooperative way in these seasonal locations is key to their ongoing success. They don’t have the same pedestrian traffic as Bondi Beach, so if the customer cannot get everything they should be able to expect, or the hours of operation or service is inconsistent or unwelcoming then they will go elsewhere.
As an experienced Speaker, can you give our readers any tips on presenting/communicating, whether it’s giving a talk as a sponsor of a local surfing event or to the media?
No matter who you are, when the opportunity arrives to speak to the world then what you say and how you say it impacts on people’s perceptions of you. Social Media has also impacted greatly on how the world now sees us, no matter where we are in the world. Many people only get to know you through magazine articles, tweets, Facebook, radio, television and other media outlets so it’s important that we have a plan on what we say and how we say it. If a microphone is being waved in front of you, my top 5 tips would be:
- Don’t Talk to the Media talk to their Audience
It’s common to put reporters on a pedestal, especially the ones we watch every day, but truthfully they are just like you and in fact are generalists who know a little about a lot.They are not your audience. It’s the people at home who are watching you so connect with them.Don’t use jargon terms and respect all people and be inclusive of all audiences.
- Always know what words are going to come out of your mouth first
Many people think they will sound better when they are spontaneous.Knowing what you are going to say alleviates the jitters when the microphone appears, creating the perfect cue for the reporter to ask you the next question.Take the lead and make your answer be a powerful message.
- Be an expert on the trends in the Surfing industry
Provide comment on trends and events that are happening in the surfing industry in Australia and the world at the moment that will create interest with the audience and make you appear to be an expert.
- You know your craft so spend the time practicing speaking
As a surfer practice on what you’re going to say if you are being interviewed on winning the event/title, or even if it’s simply for your opinion of a location. Apply these principles and you will become a “media” star and the person the media turns to for comments on the industry.
- Become an “influencer” in the surfing industry
What does all this mean when your passion is surfing? A potential sponsor may just be watching your interview and what you say may resonate enough with them to pick up the phone and connect with you.
Thanks for your time Michelle.
OOPS: Customer experiences from car parking to available products, pricing to websites form part of OOPS reporting. The ability for OOPS to pose particular questions to staff and recording the staff member’s ability to interact with the customer is vital for every retail business. Don’t just ‘hope’ your customers are getting the experience they deserve in your absence. For more information go to: www.oops.net.au