Message From Sam Walton
My friends, partners and associates:
1984 is history – having finished our fiscal year January 31st – with 1985 well underway. As most of you know, we can be real proud of our progress and accomplishments in 1984, as our sales and profits were both up more than 30% company-wide, with comparable store sales in the 15% range. Really a great year, considering the fact we added some 106 new Wal-Marts, expanded and relocated 45 others, plus the fact we opened 8 of those huge 100,000 sq, ft. Sam’s Wholesale Clubs. We now have 11 Sam’s on the street, and as a group, they were profitable last year, even charging off all their pre-opening costs.
We also had our very best profit sharing year in 1984. I’m sure you’ll be most happy with your profit sharing statements that you’ll be receiving soon. My personal appreciation also to all of our store associates who helped us establish an all-time record in 1984 for the lowest losses or shrinkage in our Company – 1.06% of sales. Some 82% of our stores qualified for these record shrink incentive bonuses. Let’s do even better in the coming year.
So I’m “bullish” on 1985 and our Wal-Mart Company’s prospects. As always, everything is dependent on how well we all work, think, and perform as a team. Teamwork, attitude, and involving and communicating with all 82,800 of our associates on a daily basis – that’s our secret – that’s the key to Wal-Mart’s ongoing success and profitability.
Looking at 1985 – as I stated in Little Rock at our Annual Meeting – we’re facing two of the most difficult quarters ever during this first six months. I’m quite confident that we’ll have a real good year in 1985 overall, but the first half will be difficult.
What can we do to ensure another great year for ourselves and our Company? The number one subject on my mind at this time is the importance of carrying out our AGGRESSIVE HOSPITALITY program throughout our Company in every store, by each and everyone of us. Hopefully, you’ve all met in groups and mapped out your strategy and campaign for making yourselves and your store the most friendly, pleasant place, with the nicest, most helpful Wal-Mart associates to be found anywhere. As I’ve said before, let’s “spoil” those wonderful customers. Let’s appreciate them every day on every visit and tell them so. I know you all will get on this program 100% and review your objectives at least monthly to see if you are on track, or what new approaches to please our customers can be developed. Have you signed and discussed and reviewed our customer pledge cards? Please do, if not. I’ll be monitoring and watching the interest the company wide contest on “Aggressive Hospitality.” It will be interesting to see which of our stores (by districts) are judged, by our District Managers and Regional Vice Presidents, to be doing the best job in this very important area.
The key to our success, though , must be that we are all truly embracing the philosophy of being servant leaders, both with our customers and with each other. The Golden Rule approach is still a great example for us all. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
One suggestion I heard time after time from our assistant managers and their spouses in Little Rock was that we call our customers by name. Nothing is sweeter to any of us than to be recognized by our name. Let’s figure out at least a dozen innovative ways to do just that in our stores.
Our Little Rock Management Meeting was the best ever in my opinion, and should go a long way to enable us to achieve our Wal-Mart goals and objectives in 1985 and beyond. Again, though, it must be a team effort, with good, caring servant-leaders who listen, and the real responsibility for our ongoing success lies with you wonderful associates throughout our Company. Your attitude, your caring, your involvement, your dedication to our customers and our Company does make the difference. We have a winning program and people, and our customers, generally, appreciate us. Let’s keep it that way.
Thanks again for 1984 and all that you’re all doing to make our Wal-Mart Company #1 throughout our 20 state trade area.