2009 Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year: Tennis Express
Everyone knows it’s a tough retail environment. Still, tennis shops are finding ways to do business. For Brad Blume at Tennis Express in Houston, it’s a return to fundamentals that is helping to see him through.
“From the top down, our team is very customer-oriented,” he says. “One of the things we do super-well is always try to find the right product for our customer — we’ll do whatever we can to get them what they want.”
It’s the willingness to go the extra mile that sets Tennis Express apart. That’s why the store is RSI’s Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year.
“Brad’s commitment to excellence and quality has resulted in one of the most successful, largest pro/specialty tennis shops in the country,” says USPTA CEO Tim Heckler.
The store is about 5,500 square feet, with another 2,500 square feet for storage and executive offices, including for TE’s internet team. Blume says at least 10 people work the floor at all times. Four of the five stringing machines are on the store floor, and usually at least two stringers are in action at all times. For 30 minutes every week, there are “team training” sessions for employees.
“We try to have a broad selection and keep items in stock,” says Blume. “And we always try to cross sell, so for instance, if you buy a racquet, we’ll give a special price on a bag.”
The store is very involved in the community, too, including donating to the Houston NJTL, supporting the Houston Tennis Association and more. TE also hosts clinics with pros; last spring, 250 people turned out to see James Blake.
“We’re about creating memorable experiences for our customers,” says Blume, “because we believe that drives loyalty.”
Tips for success
- Greet people at the door. TE also gives out a “greeter coupon” that shows what specials are going on.
- Train your staff to cross-sell related products.
- Get involved in the community.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.