It's finally done! After 6 weeks and more than 7600km every one of The Warehouse's 92 stores and more than 900 of its staff were visited by me and the Love Doctors team (Andie, Tim, Cohen and Kenny). It was an amazing ride and we met hundreds of wonderful, committed people who were really passionate about their work in retail.
It is both an impressive testimony to The Warehouse and an enormous challenge that it has so many staff with 10 or more years of service. There is a real love of the business and the work in the company. But there were also a lot of attitudes that needed to turn around in respect to the customer when my journey began with them in 2012. To see that there had been a real re-understanding of the importance of the customer and a re-connection with the importance of service from so many of those long-timers was enormously heartening. The Warehouse has been enormously courageous as a business in this re-commitment and it's been great to be a small part of that.
To see the real affection that team members have for their customers and the way this affection is returned was so impressive on a daily basis. To have a group of customers band together to help a team member locate a CD in one store was an example of this. Another was a reasonably common occurrence that happened when we talked to customers about what we were doing: their response to finding out that we were doing a customer service check-up was to passionately defend "their" store and its staff. There was, so often, such a sense of ownership by customers of their local store.
So it really was a pleasure to tour the country. I had known when I did the first wave of training more than a year ago how important a part of the community and people's lives The Warehouse could be but to experience it 92 times from within the store was powerful. For every negative story about bad treatment that people throw out there about the company I saw many more customers who were really invested in the place and who felt they were treated as part of the family.
The challenge for me now is how to distil the best of those experiences into something that helps continue to foster this sense of community in stores. But I've been given a huge amount to think about by those people, on both sides of the counter, that I met on my tour. A big thanks to them.
And a big thanks to The Warehouse for taking a chance on a crazy plan. To have 2 guys and a suitcase of crazy props descend on your store during trading hours and interact with your staff and customers takes some guts. The response from the staff and customers was overwhelmingly positive and the anecdotal benefits in terms of re-energising the customer service culture seemed immediate.
And a big thanks to the work of Allie behind the scenes. To come up with a programme where 92 stores from one end of the country to the other could be visited in 41 days was pretty amazing. We never missed an appointment and never left a store out. That sort of thing melts my brain but she tackles it with ease.