LSM Spotlight: Jennifer Crane

 In Be Locally Relevant, Be The Leader, Create Community

Jennifer Crane, General Manager
Talbots Retail Store, Alexandria, Virginia

We’re launching a new series on LSMGuide…LSM Spotlight. It showcases great people doing great local store marketing. We’ll feature small local business owners, managers of national chains, employees from restaurants and retailers…all people that embody LSM, building their business by being locally relevant to their customers and community.

Jennifer Crane, GM Talbots AlexandriaOur first LSM Spotlight is Jennifer Crane. She’s been in retail for 10 years and for the last 4 years she’s served as General Manager at Talbots in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a huge store…three shops in one.

So why Jennifer as our first LSM Spotlight? We met Jennifer at a Women & Wine Event, a networking and fundraising group, in Alexandria. Talbots is an ongoing sponsor of the event thanks to Jennifer’s donations of a Shopping Party each time for one lucky raffle winner. We were intrigued and it got us to talking with her.

Turns out that’s just one example of the great local store marketing she’s doing. So we sat down with her to learn more…

Keys to Success

Our first question for Jennifer was “What are your Keys to Success?” Her answer was pretty simple…

  1. Hire the right people.
  2. Be part of your community.

“If you do these two things, everything else will fall into place,” she said. Then we went deeper on each topic so we could share some of her great tips.

Hire the Right People

  • Look for team members with a good attitude.
  • Hire all personality types to ensure you can connect with all types of customers.
  • Get the team involved in interviewing. Jennifer has her whole team interview each candidate to ensure a great fit.
  • Motivate each person individually. Once you’ve found the right people, you have to motivate them on an individual basis to keep them going. It’s not one size fits all.

Be Part of Your Community

TalbotsIn 2011, Jennifer’s store hosted 3 different authors book signing events in her store via a nationwide tour Talbots corporate office put together. After the event Jennifer thought, “Why couldn’t we do this locally?” So she set out to connect with groups in her neighborhood like The Junior League, schools, real estate agent groups, ladies golf clubs, and more.

She invited these groups in for parties… part networking and part shopping. Each attendee received 20% off. Jennifer provided the invitations and light refreshments. It was a win-win. The groups loved it, whether a Teacher Night or a Summer Polo Shirt Party for the ladies golf club. Jennifer and her team would track the offer that evening with a specific code for the event.

As she did more of these and became part of the Alexandria community, organizations began asking her for donations. She didn’t have the budget to support giving out gift cards so she thought, “Why not donate Shopping Parties?!”

That’s how we met her at Women & Wine. Talbots donates a Shopping Party to one lucky winner who can come in with 10 friends for a few hour shopping party. The hostess receives 25% off during the party and the guests receive 20% off. Jennifer provides the invitations for her guests to give out to friends and light refreshment. Fun for all and it introduces new customers to Talbots.

Connecting With Customers

Throughout our conversation, we could also tell this is a huge part of Jennifer’s success. While she didn’t call it out specifically, it’s what she does. You can feel it when you’re in Jennifer’s store. Her and the team exude a welcoming atmosphere.

Jennifer and each person on her team have a key client list they call on a regular basis to update them on things they know will be important to the client, not what’s important to Talbots’ latest sale. As Jennifer said, “It’s about what we can do for the customer.” Three out of the companies four regions have adopted this philosophy.

They also have a Birthday Binder. Another personal phone call is made to each client in advance of their birthday to say Happy Birthday and to invite them in for shopping, and to take advantage of their birthday discount.

Did you hear that? Phone calls! Not emails. Good old fashion one on one connecting.

The Results

Jennifer and her team consistently outperform other stores in their district and consistently rank high in the region. They’ve continued to grow comparable sales year over year for the four years she’s been in the store.

And as you can see, what Jennifer is doing isn’t about big advertising budgets or special social media campaigns. And while she is part of a national chain, no matter where she works (just like she did at Ann Taylor prior), we’ll be she’d bring in the results.

Holiday Season Promotions

It’s the holiday seasons so we had to ask if she was doing any cool in-store promotion.

They’re hosting Guys Shopping Days in December. Jennifer created bag stuffers and the team started including them November 15. Ladies can give these to their significant other to come in for a special shopping night to buy gifts on their list.

Jennifer’s Philosophies

  • Be Part of the Team. She’s one of them. They all do things together. Jennifer continually gave credit to her great team for the results as we talked.
  • Lift someone else up. Whether a customer or a team member or the local vendor she’s invited in to showcase their unique talents, she does it naturally.

Favorite Part of Her Job

Jennifer loves all aspects of her job, from the challenges to the customer connections. “Making people look and feel good!” What’s not to love about that!

We hope you enjoyed our first LSM Spotlight and learned some things you can apply to your business. Thank you to Jennifer for being our first interview and sharing some of your great LSM tips!
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