Let me express a few thoughts that come to mind today. We’ve really launched ourselves into the 1990s and the best part is that this awesome Wal-Mart team of ours has put together one of the best Februaries we’ve had in a number of years. Overdue are my congratulations to all of you wonderful associate partners for your outstanding performance for February! So, I’m raising my Wal-Mart ball cap and saluting you, throughout, for that amazing increase of 17 percent in comparable store sales. On the downside, though, last year we had such a great March and April, we might have a tendency to say, “We’ve done it!” and not continue to press for that good first quarter start which has always characterized our performance.
Let’s talk for just a moment concerning those things I feel so strongly about for us to continue to do well in the '90s. In my opinion, we have most of the building blocks in place. All we need to do is continue to emphasize the basic fundamentals of our business.
No retail company in the world can compare with our Wal-Mart associates and their attitude of serving our customers as number one. This is one fantastic advantage for our Wal-Mart Division 01, Sam’s, Special Divisions and all of our support divisions.
We need to constantly keep in mind that exceeding our customers’ expectations is our number one priority! The individual sale and transaction is important, but what we should focus on is winning that customer as a friend of ours and supporter over time. It has to do with many good, basic things which are right, like having the cleanest restrooms in town and figuring out how to make it happen by just doing it on your own in each of our stores and communities. If you need our help, call for it and don’t let up until you get what you want! If we cause a customer trouble in any way – waiting in line, layaways, refunds, inferior merchandise – whatever, take it upon yourselves to correct it, make the decision and please that customer at that very moment. Don’t wait for management to tell you what is right. Just do it. It may be as simple as thanking our customers by name as they check out or by all of us greeting every customer with a friendly ”Hi!” throughout our stores. You know our formula well. Let’s just keep doing it. I know I sound like the proverbial broken record, but these are the basics that we depend on to power our Company!
Our customers tell us that they like you, individually and collectively. They like your friendly, helpful attitude, they know you want to help them and treat them personally with respect. In other words, your service and dedication comes through loud and clear. They want clean, neat stores that are in-stock and merchandised with low prices and high quality. We must keep our pricing advantage and keep lower advertising expenses than our competitors. Another big, basic advantage we must not lose is our NO HASSLE REFUND POLICY. This is a tough one for our associates who try so hard at the Service Desk to handle refunds and exchanges in a ways that pleases our customers. I would remind you that on occasion we get taken advantage of by shoplifters or drug-related gangs, etc., because of our liberal policy. Let’s keep our eyes open inside and outside our stores, watch for these things but handle them appropriately. We must hold on to our philosophy of: Rule #1 – The Customer is Always Right; Rule #2 – If The Customer Happens to be Wrong, Refer to Rule #1. Let’s make our customer feel good about their transactions and remember, long term relations are far more important to us than a one time sale.
Merchandising and VPI – Everybody keep thinking and working at exploding and creating better sales and gross profit dollars with items. It can be done by each of you, every day, in Sam’s, Wal-Mart and Special Divisions with our great Store Within A Store program. We need to do it even better in this decade than we did in the 80s. I’m betting you can and will.
Stretch Incentive Bonus – Sharing of information with each of you constantly, all of us challenging and trying to improve the things we do. No one knows our Company and customers better than our wonderful, interested, effective, hourly associates. So let’s listen and learn from each other daily on how to improve. No one has a monopoly on idea for change or improvement. Who knows where the next really good ideas will come from for Wal-Mart – maybe Auburn, AL, maybe Vivian, LA, or maybe Valdosta, GA. We need mavericks and free-thinkers who are willing to challenge “business as usual.” Almost always, we will get better.
Please do me a special favor this year. Concentrate hard on achieving your goals, department by department, store by store, on our Stretch Incentive Bonus Plan. Talk about the ingredients on a weekly or monthly basis in every store. You know the factors well. I’d like to see all our Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s warehouses qualify this year. You can do it if you will work at it, store by store, item by item, on your Profit and Loss statement (P&L). How can you keep your shrinkage below one percent of sales? How can you minimize accidents? How can you increase gross margins and gain market share in your town? You have the answers. Only you and a good management team serving each other well and communicating can make it happen.
We opened one really great Wal-Mart’s Hypermart USA a couple of weeks ago in Kansas City, MO. What a store and what a job all those new Wal-Mart associates are doing! Sales thus far are strong in food and general merchandise. Also, I’d like to personally congratulate and appreciate the Hypermart associates in Garland and Arlington, TX, and Topeka, KS, for the renovation and remerchandising of these units. I understand they’re greatly improved and will soon be having their re-grand openings. Thanks again, Hypermart team. Keep up the good work!
Enough for now. Let’s all just focushard on what got us here – the basics of Wal-Mart. Thanks.
Your friend -- Sam
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