Message from Sam Walton
This is my third and final attempt to do my Wal-Mart World article. Ellen and Loretta have been most patient, but deadlines are deadlines, and the World has one also. So even though I’ve written several pages previously, I’d like to start fresh on it today, August 10th.
Specifically, I think it would be fun to think together about our Wal-Mart partnership, and as always, I’d like to dwell on our people relationships. And as hard as we try, and overall I think we do well above average in this department, you and I both know we could all do much better “if” – so all 55,000 of you partners are invited.
What are our limits? How can we do more for our customers? How can we do more for our associates? Are we recognizing the real achievers and productivity gain increases on an individual basis, with proper pay and recognition rewards? Just a few random thoughts. These subjects should relate well with all our store associates and the roundtable discussions being held in each store on how we can do an even better job in all 600 of our Wal-Marts on improving customer service and saving our customers as much time as possible, which also translates to saving their money.
Before I go further, let me share with you some amazing results. I’ve just gotten July’s numbers. July sales and profits were absolutely fantastic! The best ever in the history of our Company. June, as you remember, was also a bang-up month as well. For July, we’ll be up about 42% in sales, and 60% range in profits. This will really give us some kind of an outstanding 2nd quarter ending July 31st. What a start we have for this 1983 year! So, my associate partners, congratulations and thanks to you all for these past six great months. Our profit sharing literally continues to “go through the roof” and is building a sizable percentage increase in each of our accounts again this year. (In spite of my annual prediction that our rate of increase will slow.)
July sales for comparable stores were up about 17% total company, approximately 42% increase. On such optimistic news with our Wal-Mart team doing such an outstanding job now from South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and north and west throughout our Wal-Mart Country, with the totally best group of new stores we’ve ever added in any one year, why should we be concerned about doing better? Aren’t we doing enough? Why don’t you relax, Sam Walton, and we’ll all take a little time to read and believe all the nice things being written and said about our Wal-Mart Company. There certainly is no question but what our sales and profits and ROI have been #1 in the retail industry for the last 5 years plus.
Yes, my friends, I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished, and you’ve done it. Wal-Mart developed into quite a dominant retailing force through the years. In fact, I think it’s true we’re one of the finest retail companies – top to bottom – in the entire world. But as much as we have improved, and as well as we’re doing, you must know we are right in the middle of the most competitive business in the world, and in my opinion, our stores are located in the most competitive regions in the entire U.S.A. Most importantly, our many good competitors are not being blasé or casual during these times. I see them all – almost 100% – running the best and most improved customer service operations ever. They would love to see us become just a little complacent and a little self-satisfied. Need I say more, my partner-associates? There’ll never ever be a time in this wonderful free enterprise country of ours where we’ll ever want to, nor can afford the luxury of coasting. So, as we’ve done so often, let’s once more “circle our wagons” – maybe run off another batch of our favorite Ozark Mountain Wal-Mart Brew – resulting in a double dose of Wal-Mart Fever – and together, take up the current challenges that face us. (Outsiders may not quite understand that Wal-Mart mystical brew business – non-alcoholic, for sure!)
We can all agree then that we can do better. Especially in the whole big area of customer service and friendliness, and that’s what we together need to zero in on. The other main objective in my opinion must be to continue to see to it that all of us in Wal-Mart Management “truly put the interest of our associates first” – or that we treat each other with respect and as true Wal-Mart partners with a future to share. As we’ve said so often – a true leader must be a real servant always. He who would lead must serve and listen.
If we actually accomplish in a consistent way these two great and most important objectives – taking care of our associates #1, and providing our customers with service, friendliness, and the best quality of merchandise available at the lowest possible prices – a very simple, but effective formula, we will guarantee our Wal-Mart future for years.
This has developed into a much longer treatise than I had intended, but let me throw out a few other random thoughts.
1. Participative – creative – interested associates who care – about says it all, doesn’t it? Let’s don’t lose it, and how can we do it better?
2. I like Walt Disney’s approach with their customers … every customer should be treated as a guest. Why not treat every last customer that enters our store doors next week as a special V.I.P. – an appreciated guest of our Wal-Mart family? Just as we’d welcome them in our homes. They’ve chosen our store, so how could we make them feel like guests – part of our Wal-Mart Family even – and appreciated? How can we do this for our customers in all of our stores every day?
How does the song go? “We’ve only just begun!” “We’ve only just begun!” That’s for sure! You’re one great group of partners. You have made the difference in our Wal-Mart Company.
Let those creative juices flow! Let me encourage you to keep at least two or three fresh experiments alive in every store and unite within our Company and keep challenging the past and our traditions! Keep thinking! Keep enjoying your work! Let’s make it fun! With the right leaders, it will be fun and good for all of us!
Thanks, my friends, for hearing me out. We’ve all got to get out into your stores and distribution centers more. Good luck, and keep that Wal-Mart rolling!
Sam M. Walton