So it’s no surprise that Forbes — “the capitalist tool” — featured the store’s own CEO, Jack Mitchell, in yesterday’s “CEO Show” Q-and-A on its website.
Here’s a sample:
Describe the Mitchell model for building customer loyalty.
Customer loyalty is about making the customer the center of the universe. We do that through famly values from Mom and Dad, something we call “hugging.” I define a “hug” as any large or small deed that shows you genuinely care about someone as a real person.
Everyone in our stores tries to understand every customer as a complete individual. Where they work and play; what they like and don’t like, their anniversary, their favorite food, wine, restaurant, sports team and hobby … and if they have kids, their kids’ birthdays and sports or instrument.
If someone loves wine send them the right bottle; of course not to a recovering alcoholic. Once we know someone genuinely, we connect with them genuinely by delivering what’s important to them. It could be a handwritten note – of course with a real ink pen – congratulating them on their son being part of a championship junior high football team.
Or perhaps they’re going to an important wedding, so we’ll come over and personally tie their bow tie. Anything that makes them know we understand how special they are. As a business, we are completely data driven and the computer remembers everything … and that’s our how we build loyalty, through a hugging culture.
How do you build the hugging culture?
Total 100% commitment to personalized customer service. When starting, it’s all about the hiring process. We want people who are honest …which includes being open, caring and transparent. Then they must be nice. They must be passionate to listen learn and grow. And finally, they must be competent and open to new ideas.
What advice do you have on family business?
If it is working well through a set of guidelines or rules; stick to it. For the Mitchell family the most important thing is viewing it 1st as a business and 2nd as a family business. So family members often are entitled to equity, but not to a job. That’s why all of our 7 sons had to work for 5 years outside the family business.
This enabled them to develop a specific business skill. Once they have a business skill we try to match that skill to our business needs. We give annual reviews including a modified 360. When you put the right people in the right place on the bus, you get where you’re going faster, and everyone can enjoy the ride.
Your culture is all about being customer centric. There must be other elements responsible for your significant success?
Of course, as our mission statement points out, we are a family-owned high-end men’s and women’s specialty store committed to providing exceptional customer service and high quality merchandise in an exciting, friendly, and visually dynamic atmosphere.
I often say we are about C’s…commitment, Customer, Community and Cash. We learned that (C)ash is the only meaningful addition to our hugging culture (since the recession of 1989-1991). I am proud that we consistently deliver on our hugging culture.
(Click here for the full interview.)