Tennis Industry magazine


Retailing Tip: Enjoy the Game!

If your store culture is upbeat, you can positively affect your customers and your bottom line.

By Jay Townley

Tennis retail has been facing tough times in recent years. As a retailer, it’s easy to spend time worrying about what you need to do to keep your store’s bottom line from bottoming out.

Shoppers have become more demanding, and much less forgiving of slow or poor service, for which there is no excuse. But if you can keep your store atmosphere and store culture happy and upbeat, you can grow your customer base and boost your profits.

This is not a new concept. In the sales world, retailers may know the initials POS for “point of sale,” but author and consultant T. Scott Gross has a different take. His successful business book around his retail experiences is titled, Positively Outrageous Service: How to Delight and Astound Your Customers and Win Them for Life.

“Positively Outrageous Service … evolved through my fortunate exposure to great lovers of customers who taught me that serving is honorable and fun,” Gross writes.

What do you have to do to create a fun place to work that delivers fun shopping experiences for customers? Start by hiring the right people.

Use online assessments as a part of your hiring process. Look for customer-service naturals. Always conduct at least two interviews with a candidate before making a job offer. And never hire on a gut feeling. The objective is to hire people who want to serve and provide outstanding customer service.

Next, make sure staff is trained on your retail systems and educated about store policies and operating procedures. Every employee needs to know what they’re empowered to decide, and to deliver a consistent level of outstanding and outrageously positive customer service.

When your staff knows and understands what you want and what the rules of the retail operation are, then they can approach their jobs with a sense of relaxation and ease — and can actually have fun while working.

For shoppers, make their experience enjoyable. Consider comfortable seating areas. You may want to have coffee or cold drinks available. Some stores also have snacks available during peak shopping periods, such as popcorn or freshly baked cookies. Offer balloons and giveaways to kids.

Build fun into your store’s promotions. If you have the room (maybe in a safe area of the parking lot), offer short-court tennis, hitting with short racquets and foam or low-pressure balls. Partner with a local tennis facility or tennis pro to offer discounted court or clinic time. If you’re in an area that has a professional tournament or exhibition, partner with the organizers to offer discounts on tickets to the event. Be creative.

After all, this is tennis, which should be fun for you, your employees — and especially your customers.

Jay Townley is a partner in the retail consulting firm Gluskin Townley Group (



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