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Rack 'em up…

We are often told to remember that we, as employees of authentic outfitters, do not always represent the majority of our customer base. We sometimes take our intimately detailed knowledge of our own gear for granted. A customer seeking a roof rack for his SUV drilled this point home for me a couple of years ago.



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We are often told to remember that we, as employees of authentic outfitters, do not always represent the majority of our customer base. We sometimes take our intimately detailed knowledge of our own gear for granted. A customer seeking a roof rack for his SUV drilled this point home for me a couple of years ago.

He swept into the store and hurriedly asked if we carried roof rack systems for skis. I informed him that we did and asked a few pertinent questions to determine which size and style he would be interested in. He answered my questions with more questions, insisting that I simply tell him the difference between the available models without any further guidance from him.

So, with the Yakima catalogue and Fit Guide in hand, I patiently described the product selection that could have any chance of meeting his needs. He was then able to decide he was interested in an enclosed gearbox, of which there are several styles and sizes.

Finally, a break in the clouds! I asked him which of those aforementioned boxes he felt would work best for his family’s trip.

Then it flies out of his mouth, “But which one do I need? Which one will fit my skis?”

So, I asked him to describe the basic significant details of his family’s equipment: quantity, type, and length. To this he replied, “I don’t know. You tell me.”

I was staring at him, smiling slightly, for about five seconds before my jaw dropped as I realized he was serious. I calmly replied that skis and snowboards come in many lengths and it would prove very difficult for me to determine which enclosed box would be best without knowing the length of the longest ski.

Unfortunately, he became quite enraged that I could not psychically divine the length of his skis. He snapped, “Well, you certainly aren’t much help. Do you even know anything?”

Struggling to keep the lid on my boiling temper, I replied that I was trying, but his lack of information made it very difficult for me to provide real assistance. At this point he thanked me sarcastically and stormed out, leaving a trail of gaping mouths in his wake.

I still feel justified that this was not a service failure. One of the stunned onlookers was a friend of the difficult customer who immediately apologized for the man’s behavior saying, “Wow! I’m sorry he was such an a**hole. Don’t worry. That wasn’t your fault, that’s just him.”

Well, at least I felt a LITTLE better, but it’s never nice to have someone storm out on you. Rumor from other stores in town has it that he did a repeat performance and was not satisfied anywhere else either.

Just goes to show, people don’t like to have their ignorance or lack of preparedness pointed out and it’s a delicate line to tread when it must be done. So watch your step!!!
by Christina Kline

Through July 1, retail sales staff answered the contest call to submit a story of survival and perseverance in the face of challenging customers. The story titles with summaries that made the first round of qualifications are listed below, and each is now in the hands of our judges to decide on the top 10. You can read each story in its entirety by going to the contest landing page — click here.

Ten lucky story writers will each win over $1,000 in product prizes based on the contest judges’ votes. Here is where you come in! Of those 10, one will be named the grand prizewinner, cashing in on a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007. Three others will be named official “honorable mentions,” and in addition to the valuable prizes, each will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed toward attendance at an Outdoor Industry Association-sponsored event, such as Outdoor University, Mountain Sports Festival or the OIA Rendezvous. The grand prize winner will be announced at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006. We will determine the grand prize winner and the three runner up winners based on popular vote (sorry judges) — those among the top ten receiving the most votes win, it’s that simple. This is for store pride, for knowing you have a winner amongst you, so vote as often as you like. Tell your friends. Tell your friends friends. Tell your dog — but only if he can work a computer keyboard.

Deadline for voting is August 1, 2006.Click here to register your vote now!

Did you miss out on this year’s contest? Bummer, but no worries. If you haven’t already done so, outdoor retail staff can get ready for next year by activating a subscription now at www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/freeretail/snewsarticle-contest.html. Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.