Message to Associates
Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas
I’m writing this message to you well before that eventful season. Normally, as you probably suspect, my usual planning time frame is in terms of a day or two, possibly a week once in a while. So, my friends, we had better take a long-range point of view regarding our challenge in the fourth quarter.
I was confident, early on, of the ability of our Wal-Mart team to compare very favorably with last year’s number, but now I’m not so certain. Even though we’re considerably better than most of our direct competitors, we’re just not where we would like to be. I feel we’re experiencing a slight economic downturn in much of our territory. Generally, that condition will result in increase, positive action by our Wal-Mart teams that attracts additional customers to our Wal-Mart stores and SAM’S units. You’ve certainly responded well with your extra efforts but, comparatively, sales have been sluggish for us overall.
You’re doing a great job for our customers! Our sales and profits reflect your excellent efforts for the third quarter. However, we must start thinking of other ways to exceed our customers’ expectations in this all-important fourth quarter. I figure you will and that we can count on you as a team to think, work, and listen to one another, then us that all-important Wal-Mart and SAM’S trademark of action: DO IT – TRY IT – FIX IT!
Let’s all be merchants – selecting, buying, displaying and selling over and above the usual – and let’s have fun doing it.
Now, long-term and most important, for our future: How can we set ourselves apart from our competition in the ‘90s? Where will we be in the year 2000 A.D.? We know our direct competitors, as well as all the specialty and food retailers, are getting better daily throughout the U.S. What should we do to meet or beat our competition?
Here are a couple of suggestions which should help each of you in your stores and clubs improve customer satisfaction in the 90’s.
Be the friendliest and most helpful to our customers through exceeding expectations, the 10’ Rule, thanking them by name and those wonderful people greeters. Plus, all the other good things you’re thinking of daily. We do care!
On the front of our first store in 1962 – Rogers, AR – we placed a big sign that said: “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “We Sell For Less,” meaning every day. We still have that sign, but we could add, starting in ’92 or sooner, a third decree and promise to our customer: “We Promise You The Fastest, Most Friendly Check-Out Service In The World At Wal-Mart And SAM’S.” If we could deliver on this promise, what a leg-up we would have on our competition. We would have to do some different things and make some commitments in our stores and the Company that we have never done or made before. If we boldly make that promise and deliver, what a great advantage we would have. I’m convinced our customers would appreciate such a total commitment to front-end service – always available, friendly cashiers – as much as anything else we could do. I can visualize better trained, better paid cashiers, keeping more registers open at the busiest hours, perhaps more cash-only lanes, more check-only lanes, credit card-only lanes and many other ideas that you partners in our stores could suggest and implement.
Incidentally, I would like to eliminate the titles we use for our servant leader/managers. Who wants or needs a manager? I like the idea of our managers becoming “coaches” or “facilitators” and our associate-partners actually making more and more decisions and taking more responsibility in running our stores, distribution centers and support areas in the home office.
Back to our basic subject – how to guarantee the best and fastest service when our customers are ready to check out. Would you think and recommend how it could be done? How about each region in Wal-Mart, SAM’S and our Supercenters forming a blue ribbon panel and coming up with your best thoughts and ideas? From those suggestions, your team leaders should be able to put together a program for each of our divisions that is right, guaranteeing the NUMBER ONE, FASTEST, FRIENDLIEST SERVICE at all front-ends.
I would appreciate your discussing this idea first in your meeting. Maybe you don’t think such an approach is necessary or right. If so, say so. If you think we can do better, tell us how to be the best and fastest up-front service for our bosses – our customers.
Lastly and most important, thanks to all of you for being members of our Wal-Mart family. Your loyalty, dedication and caring attitude toward our customers has made our Company number one. We appreciate you all so very much. We wish you and your families the finest and most blessed Christmas season ever.
Sam M Walton