Customer Perceptions were absolutely delighted to attend the Retail Excellence Retreat this year, with a fantastic lineup of speakers.
The spectacular venue – Carton House in Maynooth was the perfect setting for this long-awaited catch-up with colleagues and friends. Fantastic food and service throughout the event.
The dinner on night 1 was delicious – and even better with the Guest Speaker lineup on the night. First up was John Fahy – Senior AIB Economist. A very difficult topic to have to speak on in the current environment and not much positivity about it i.e inflation having a negative impact on the economy’s growth prospective, and customer spend. However, if there was a glimmer of light, it was on that the customer spend hasn’t dropped as much as it was predicted. The big take away is the impact of the energy crisis, and its massive impact to retail.
Next up was Stuart Lancaster – Leadership and Coaching with Leinster Rugby Team. Such an inspiring talk and discussion on the ups and down of his career to date and what keeps Leinster at the top of its game. Stuart had two very useful take aways for me. Firstly contact with everyone at least once a week, even if that is a quick chat in the hall to stay connected with everyone and being approachable. Secondly, he has read an incredible number of books and referenced many, the one I found interesting for me personally is called ‘How to help Children find the champion within themselves’. It’s all about getting kids to reflect on their own performance, rather than it being solely about goals, points, try’s etc. Seems like a much healthier approach. I have ordered this book, however, yet to read! In terms of impact on retailers, this was very much targeted at being an effective leader and/or business owner, how to get the most from teams through effective communication, discussing the good the bad and ugly, the power of reflection, but then planning for the future and next steps and move on
The next morning, we made the trip back to Carton House for what we knew was going to be yet another exciting session. After a super opening from Minister Damien English and MC Sonya Lennon, we were treated to a fantastic session with Geoff Ramm on Celebrity Service! Such a simple yet effective concept as to how we should be treating each customer as they are a celebrity…. What more can we do? Turns out.. when we think about it, there is always more room to dazzle our customers. We need to be in the mindset of treating each and every one as a potential customer! Geoff shared some fantastic stores with us of how he experienced Celebrity Service and really had us all captivated at how such simple actions can have such significant effects. I would definitely recommend for anyone to check out his YouTube Channel on https://www.youtube.com/user/geofframm.
So many standout speakers at the event, we were spoilt for choice. We headed on down to the Princess Grace Suite for a conversation with some Retail Managers on hot topics at the moment. We listened to Colin Curtis (Harvey Norman), Karl Fitzgerald (Applegreen) and Laura Hendron (Butlers) about the challenges they are currently facing. Sonya facilitated this session and topics such as staff recruitment, employee progression and the talent market at the moment. All agreed there are serious challenges in recruiting and retaining staff at the moment, and that businesses need to be as creative and flexible as possible in order to attract new blood. Some great ideas including offering employees as much flexibility as they can (although won’t work in all circumstances) and to also have a clear path to progression laid out to entice the younger workforce.
Just before lunch we were treated to an inspiring story from Marie Gleeson on the topic of Overcoming Adversity – Stronger than Before. Marie told us her captivating story of her career in the Irish Navy on the frontline in such horrendous conditions, her personal tragedies in life, and how the leadership she had shown throughout her life has made her the amazing, strong person she is today. The importance of leadership really resonated with the team here. A fantastic speaker to really make us think.
After a lovely tasty lunch we were also treated to an interesting conversation with Duncan, Sonya and Operation Transformations Karl Henry. Duncan led the discussion with Karl and Sonya both discussing the challenges they faced with their infant businesses. Karl (although already well done from Operation Transformation) talked about his new project – his own range of fitness equipment and how he managed to create a partnership with the leading Irish Retailer Dunnes Stores. He spoke to us about the perseverance of being focused on what he wanted and how we learned and adapted the journey along the way. Sonya also spoke about her own businesses, the downfalls when thinks go wrong and how to get back up on your feet again. This was super to hear about real-life experiences and how so many others are facing similar challenges, and most importantly how they have the resilience to over-come them.
So many more fantastic speakers on the day presented their topics and it really was fantastic to see everyone in person again. Huge thank you and well done to Duncan, Keelan, Antoinette and all involved in organising this great event! We are already looking forward to next year.