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Macy's, Inc. Message Board

  • boyphenom666 boyphenom666 Jan 10, 2007 8:42 PM Flag

    Macy's shoppers speak out

    Macy's shoppers speak out
    Store battling to win back disenchanted

    January 10, 2007
    BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter

    The battle for the hearts and pocketbooks of former Marshall Field & Co. shoppers has prompted the top executive to write his own e-mail pleas.
    Antagonists of the transformation to Macy's from Field's have deluged chatrooms and reporters with postings and e-mails.

    In one recent case, Robert Cherry, a 39-year-old father and a Darien native who now works as a general manager overseas, e-mailed Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's parent Federated Department Stores, which bought the Field's chain and nine other regional chains from May Department Stores for $11.9 billion in August 2005.

    Cherry defended Field's "terrific brand equity" and recounted "how visceral people's connection to Field's is in Chicago.

    "My mother worked her way through college at the Field's on State Street," Cherry said. "Even as a boy, I enjoyed going there."

    Lundgren responded, writing that sales at Field's had declined for six years, and that the competitive landscape had changed dramatically in Chicago and nationwide.

    "Regional department stores have struggled, and Marshall Field's was among the weakest performers on most levels," Lundgren wrote, and asked Cherry to try shopping at Macy's.

    Cherry said he was surprised and humbled to receive the e-mail, and believed the message was from someone who was trying to save the department store.

    Other shoppers have embraced Macy's without shedding a tear.

    In an e-mail and interviews with the Sun-Times, Dee and Joseph Bryja, native Chicagoans and life-long Marshall Field's shoppers, said, "Customer service is exemplary at Macy's."

    The Bryjas said they are pleased by the cleaner and brighter appearance of the Macy's flagship store at 111 N. State St. than at its predecessor Field's store, and by the salespeoples' easily identifiable black clothing.

    The Bryja family exchanged more gifts from Macy's this Christmas Eve than they had previously bought at Field's.

    Amy Hanson, vice chairwoman of administration at Macy's North in Minneapolis, where she oversees the Field's regional division's finances and operations, told the Sun-Times that surveys show shoppers can be won over by store redesigns, new merchandise and improved sales help.

    Hanson, 48, rose through the ranks at Federated Department Stores in her 23-year tenure at the Cincinnati-based company.

    Macy's executives read customer feedback every day, and take it seriously, Hanson said.

    "I'm passionate about restrooms and fitting rooms," she said. "I want our customers to be 'wowed' by every moment in our stores."

    Hanson said she has learned that she must communicate clearly because of misunderstandings. Some Field's customers believed incorrectly that Federated would build new Macy's stores in the Chicago area, while others are surprised to learn that her regional office is on the 9th floor of the Macy's store in downtown Minneapolis, where Dayton-Hudson was headquartered.

    sguy@suntimes.com

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    • There is a substantial difference. They may have recognized her from the picture but customers actually looked for her,..sought her out, to compliment her on the store, to chat, just because, because that was the type of exuberant person that she was. She made a difference because she didnt treat everyone in the store like they were less than any other store.This is how these people were treated for years before she got there. She never asked anything of anyone that she wouldnt do herself. She gave the store hope. If you knew anything about the area, this would make a lot of sense to you. There was another gm that left after she did and he was also cut from the same cloth. A dying breed perhaps. The same gsms are still there but the spark isnt. I think they're waiting for the ax to fall.

    • Fedup, have you ever worked in a retail environment?

    • I don't buy it.

      Did the staff at that store change? Have new associates and managers that never worked for the exceptional manager you mentioned replaced all that she would have trained?

      You said "she was highly recognizable." Maybe I missed something but doesn't the store manager's picture show up at the door? How could they not recognize one?

      Are there really that many meetings? Every day? Don't blame the meetings as to why you aren't productive enough when you are not in one.

    • I've been watching this board for a while and feel the need to respond. Knowing your customers does make all the difference in the world...especially in a store in a dead mall that has the same customers everyday and is unable to attract any new ones! The gm referenced was EXCEPTIONAL in every sense of the word. Every customer was greeted and she was highly recognizable. The gsm's followed suit under her at the time. If you go there now it's similar to a concentration camp. One of the reasons you do not see any managers on the sales floor is because of the amount of ridiculous meetings and conference calls that we have to sit on and attend. By the time you can actually get to setting your sale, etc it is time to leave for the day. In the past, we would suck it up and stay later to accomplish all that needed to be accomplished. Now, does it really make any difference?? We have all been treated poorly at one time or another by the RVP, cant go to HR and really dont trust the current GMs because their terrified of the RVP. The gm mentioned knew the importance of providing great customer service in an attempt to revitalize the store. I believe the RVP is disgusted by small stores and does not understand the dynamics of stores under $20m. Other gsms in smaller stores in the region feel the same way. Hypocritical in that a fair amount of the region is made up of small volume stores.

    • You go for weeks without seeing a manager?

      Have you never been to a morning or evening meeting?

      You are right shoe and suit sales are different than women's clothes sales. Women's clothes sales require less work. The training was different as well as the pay scale. Now Macy's expects their people to sell and their managers to make it so. They aren't looking to create more clerks just improve the staff they employ today.

      You wrote "There are professional sales people in my store who know much more about selling than the asms do." What you don't seem to realize is all sales associates are professional sales people and if they are not performing in that manner then someone should address the issue.

    • Are you trying to tell me that the former store manager knew the customer better than the last one? Why does that even matter, did the manager go door to door for tea and crumpets?
      By the way, the biggest flaw in that theory is what happened then. Is the store better off today as a result of that manager?

      Did the store manager have any control over the mix in that store? If not, then it wasn't the manager, it was the buying office who knew that store's customer. That would be the first time the buying office got it right.

      There is no excuse for no knowledgable sales staff either. Maybe a salesperson that lacks knowledge but not the entire staff. See, too many lunches with the community for that store manager!!! Maybe if the store manager had spent more time developing the staff then the manager might have ended their career on a higher note instead of just being one more topic on a message board for disgrunted employees.

    • One slip and it is the end for you FD blowhards. With elimation of Group Sales Managers, it does make it difficult to run a business and sell. You and John would like the stores to become big box wharehouse stores with no cusomer service.

      And now that you mention it, that former store manager did provide excellent customer service and knew the customer and that is how she helped to revitalize a dead store.

      Bottom line, no help, no knowledgable sales staff = poor sales. Bottom line. Just look at the numbers in our area and it shows.

    • Not only have I been in a shoe store, I have worked in a shoe store. Along with several other types of retail environments in my 30 plus years of retail experience from sales to management. Have you?
      What you are saying does not work if you are truly interested in selling to your customers. Shoes & suits are two very different examples than say women's clothing. But I am not going to change your mind.
      As far as asms, we can go for weeks without seeing a manager at all. Encouraging their employees to sell, I don't think so. Open charges maybe, sell no. There are professional sales people in my store who know much more about selling than the asms do. And making twice the amount of money. But I'm sure if FD has their way these pros will be gone soon and replaced by your clerks.

    • Have you ever been in a shoe store?

      Shoe salespeople are often left with a huge customer to employee ratio and yet they often excel. The thing is even a shoe sales person becomes a clerk when the stores get too busy.

      This isn't Christmas anymore. One associate isn't faced with hundreds of customers anymore. Look at the suit departments they stack customers, why can't that happen in juniors or the home store?

      Cutting sales help hurts business if they cut beyond what is sensible from a sales per hour standpoint. If one person sells at the goal of $150 per hour then the company gets what it wants. They don't want two sales people; one at $75 and one at $100. It doesn't mean they made $25 more per hour. That means that they lost $125 an hour in sales.

      Allowing sales people to clerk hurts business and sure, there are times when the business forces some departments to run lines all day but in every store several people are standing around looking for something to do.

      Where are the asms, as Maycogal calls them? Shouldn't they be redistributing the help to maximize sales? Shouldn't they be encouraging the sales people to approach customers and upsell?

      By the way this isn't just a retail solution. Look at any big business. Production falls and jobs are cut. Federated's answer is to expand the support staff to get the sales staff free to help customers and therefore less sales help should be needed. There is no longer two sales people; one setting sales and doing markdowns and one selling. Now it's just one selling.

    • I beg to differ. Selling is showing the customer merchandise, knowing your merchandise and merch in other depts, suggesting other merch, building the sale, helping in the fitting room, asking questions, knowing what the customer wants before they even know what they want, etc etc etc! You cannot build this relationship with the customer when you are the only one on the floor. However you can be a "clerk" when you are alone. All you have to do is stand at the register and ring ring ring. THAT is NOT selling. Customers want sales people who know their merchandise and can help them find what they need. FD by cutting all their sales help is not allowing any "selling" to be done! Sorry, but cutting sales help hurts the business. They need to find another answer.

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