2007 Pro/specialty retailer of the year: Michael Lynne’s Tennis
Michael Lynne and his wife, Mimzy, moved back to Minnesota in 1990 after spending several years in Arizona, where he had a small tennis shop for five years. When the Lynnes returned to Minneapolis, Michael scoped out places for another tennis shop, settling on a 1,700-square-foot store in a strip mall.
“It was a terrific location, offering great parking, convenient to all the tennis clubs,” he says. “That first year I put in 100 hours a week.”
Now, 17 years and 5,500 square feet later, all that hard work has paid off. Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop is one of the largest in the country, and each year the shop outdoes itself in sales.
“I’ve seen them grow their business for eight years straight, which is unheard of,” says Prince sales rep Mickey Maule. “At year end, they treat sales reps and staff to a steak dinner to celebrate another year of record growth. Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop is truly a destination for tennis fans in the Twin Cities and upper Midwest. It’s a first-class operation that gives nothing but exceptional customer service and likely the best selection of tennis equipment you can find in one shop anywhere in the country.”
And it’s this winning combination of service, selection, sales and more that makes Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop RSI’s 2007 Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year.
Lynne attributes the store’s success to “lots of hard work.” The shop carries most apparel lines as well as the major racquet brands. There are more than 1,000 racquets in stock, says Lynne, and “they are carried in depth.”
But it’s not only about sales. Fully supportive of Minneapolis’ large tennis community, Lynne puts kids’ and local team photos on his back wall along with local tennis stories and news. And he’s happy to offer tennis tips to his customers and encourages them to “test drive” racquets for free.
Mimzy, meanwhile, keeps close tabs on apparel, carrying lines appropriate for all age groups. “It’s important to listen to customers and what they want,” she says. “We make it easy for customers to get clothes that aren’t in stock by making all the catalogs readily available. Sometimes it’s the subtle things you do in merchandising — like changing displays to make things look fresh. Women like change, they like to wander around the shop; while men want to know they can find what they want in the same place.”
Clothing is grouped by size and the price is always visible. Racks are never overcrowded and pieces are displayed on the wall so customers can see them as “outfits.” When customers try on clothes, they find large dressing rooms with excellent lighting. Also, all the employees don various tennis outfits to work so customers can see what the clothes actually look like “on.”
The store also has six stringing machines, so, as Michael notes, “You can have your racquets strung while you wait.”
But even “waiting” at Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop is a pleasure. Customers can watch the Tennis Channel on TV while having a snack or sipping gourmet coffee the shop supplies. “We’re a destination point,” Lynne says. “People have to drive here, so we want to make sure our staff is well-informed on the merchandise and offers great customer service.”
“Michael and Mimzy personify customer service, and they teach their staff to take this approach,” says Greg Mason, senior director of sales for HEAD. “It’s the little things like greeting each customer, then thanking them as they leave, writing thank-you notes to repeat customers — that really makes the difference.”
The staff, adds Mason, is always upbeat and motivated. “It’s apparent they ‘get it,’” says Mason. “The Minneapolis tennis market is the real winner.”
Tips for success
- Customer service comes first. Always listen to what the customer wants and always thank them for their business.
- Have a well-informed staff and offer the greatest variety of merchandise possible. Boost apparel sales by having staff wear the clothing lines you carry.
- Lots of hard work and dedication.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.