Friends, I'm just returning on this beautiful fall day from a most exhilarating three-day trip to our stores in Florida – from Gainesville down to Naples and in between – plus, today I've really enjoyed stopping off first at our fine Douglas, Georgia Wal-Mart store and Distribution Center. Both facilities have great people doing a very fine job for our Wal-Mart Company. They have every right to be very proud of their accomplishments.
Then, later I stopped at our huge new 1.5 million-square-foot Distribution Center at Laurens, South Carolina. I don't know when I've been so pleased with what those fine new associates have done in bringing this Distribution Center up to an excellent level of productivity in a very few months after start-up. We're truly blessed with some great management associates in our Distribution Centers – servant leaders – doing an outstanding job, as usual. Their avowed goals are to keep our Wal-Mart store orders to as near as possible 100% mistake-free by practicing our "Do it Right the First Time" policy. It really has been a good week and a great day for me in particular. I wish all of our associates could have sensed the pride and enthusiasm of those fine associates in both Douglas and Laurens. Our new Laurens Wal-Mart was really doing an outstanding job, too, and in the middle of the very best Toy Layaway Promotion of any Wal-Mart that I've seen in the past three days. Our Laurens store and Distribution Center associates are, and will continue to be, winners for years to come.
Every so often, I have to remind myself that I'm 70, going on 71, and probably should be slowing down. However, I've been feeling exceptionally good and I'm eagerly anticipating the start of another quail season on November 1. Truthfully, I've been getting around a lot during the past two or three months, all over Wal-Mart Country, visiting lots of stores. I'm really trying to build up credits so you won't mind if I spoil myself hunting birds this year. My six dogs and I are more than ready, so don't expect me to be dropping in from November 1 through February 15, unless you’re on my way to the field or have a sure-fire covey staked out close to your store.
A subject uppermost on my mind which I wanted most to emphasize in this particular article is our customer service philosophy: "You're always next in line at Wal-Mart." It doesn't say, "You're sometimes next in line" or "You're next in line from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. but not on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday." We have promised our wonderful customer that we will immediately and always (100%) open up that new register if more than two customers stack up in a line. You know, and I know, we're not getting this done in our stores as we should. We must improve and figure out a way to keep our promise to our customers. Everywhere, our competition has improved in so many ways. In my opinion, all of us need to go back and crank up our Aggressive Hospitality Program throughout our Wal-Mart Company. I would appreciate every Wal-Mart store or Sam's reinstating and setting up a new Aggressive Hospitality campaign for your customers. Let it be your plan and let your associates develop it, but let it happen soon. We need to once again spoil our customers – those welcomed guests who come into our Wal-Mart or Sam's house – with friendliness, looking up from our work with a genuine smile and greeting, calling them by name and thanking them for shopping with us; management up front and associates introducing yourselves to our customers, thanking them for their business and offering to help in whatever way as needed with, "My name is ___ and I'm an assistant manager, I really appreciate your coming in. What is your name? Just let me know if I can help you anytime you're in our store. Thanks again, Mrs. ___"
It's so simple and doesn't cost a thing, but it is so very effective in building a satisfied customer base that will stay with us as long as we provide: lowest prices, quality merchandise, clean stores that are in-stock – all those things our customers want. Then added to that, an extra ingredient of Aggressive Hospitality by our wonderful associates, and you have a Wal-Mart formula for continued success! I guess I would like to do a video on this Aggressive Hospitality theme before November 1. Maybe we can. I feel so strongly that we must do it better and that we can.
Bless you all. I'm about to land this Cessna 414 after my three-and-a-half hour flight from Laurens, so will close. It's been a good day and I've enjoyed my visit with you. Thanks, Sam
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