As a Company, we're sensitive to our customers and our associates...their suggestions, their criticisms and compliments. Without a doubt, this ability to listen and take action has consistently been a very important factor in our improving as a Company, and I feel that everyone on our management team is oriented and receptive to suggestions.
One apparent weakness in Wal-Mart that I would like to discuss this month that comes through loud and clear whenever I talk to our customers, and many times...our own associates, is that our customers have to wait too long at the checkout. In various forms, this single complaint about our stores is the one we hear most frequently. "It takes too long to get checked out." "I don't like to stand in line 30 or 40 minutes at the checkouts." "Why don't you have enough cashiers and registers to handle the customers properly."
Let's see if we can't all get on this "problem" that does exist to varying degrees throughout our Company and come up with some solutions. The results, I'm sure, would be gratifying to us all.
I would suggest a store meeting in every store to discuss your own situation in your store. You may or may not have a problem, but you'll know if it exists. Do you have enough cashiers at all times to handle peak loads...day and night? Are they properly trained? Do you need more registers?...and are they operative? (And I know this has been a real problem in many stores.)
Why don't we go all-out to solve this weakness within our Company by each store identifying what steps need to be taken, and then initiate a plan of action at once to improve our customer service at the checkouts. I'm certain our District Managers, Regional Supervisors, and all of us here at the General Office will work with you in every way possible.
I'd be glad to hear from any of you on your plans or suggestions, and if I can advise or help in any way, just let me know.
Speedier, friendly service up front will really go a long way to guarantee that our Wal-Mart sales and profits will continue to improve and guarantee a good, secure future for us all.
Let me quickly report sales and some operating results for April and the first quarter.
Our first quarter was really a winner and surprised quite a few folks, including myself. Our April sales were $47,400,000, or up 37%, and 15% on comparable stores. Total sales were $122,500,000, or up about 31%, for February, March, and April, with comparable stores increasing over 12%.
Our earnings haven't been announced, but they, too, should be excellent, as it appears our expenses are very much in line with our sales gains. May, too, for the first two weeks, has started off well with strong sales increases. As always, we'll need to monitor our inventories closely and improve our "turnover" and return on investment. We must, as a Company, and as individual stores and department managers, control our inventories and stay within our budgets and inventory plans.
The year is really rolling by...it'll soon be Back to School and Christmas again... all too soon.
I'm mighty pleased with what we have all accomplished individually and as a Company, both last year and this first quarter of 1977. We've got a team effort going, and we're working with, and for, one another. Let's keep things rolling. My sincere thanks to you all.
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