What could have saved Toys R Us…and how can you keep your business from that same fate?

What could have saved Toys R Us…and how can you keep your business from that same fate?

Toys R Us may have been one of the first truly successfully niche stores.  I remember standing in line to buy the latest Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo when that was THE place to get toys.  I stalked them the way I now stalk presale codes for popular concerts.  Everyone wanted, dare I say needed to be a Toys R Us kid.  Toys R Us represented play to an entire generation, so what happened???

The answer is easy, they refused to change.  They wanted to remain a brick and mortar in a time when the world wide web was taking over everything.  They wanted to just sell products  when unique experiences were dominating the consumer purchase decision.  They were an oak tree when they needed to be a willow.  You may be asking how we switched to talking about trees.  Well, oak trees are known for their strength and ability to stand fast, but they are inflexible and if a strong enough force comes through (Amazon, Escape Games, kids cooking and painting classes), they will fall.  A willow tree, on the other hand, is also strong but in a different way.  It bends and sways so when a strong force comes through it is likely to lean into it and bend without breaking.  That’s what Toys R Us needed to do, and that’s what your business needs to do.

In this day and age, we see a lot of disruptors – businesses that seem to come out of no where and change the game.  They’re your Amazons and Ubers and to some extent Southwest Airlines.  They literally disrupt the way consumers do things and become the new platinum standard (or should I say Vibranium standard for the few million people who saw Black Panther).  Established businesses can survive a disruptor if they are nimble and react quickly enough to the new normal.  That’s what Toys R Us didn’t do.  They continued down the path of shoppers coming in the store instead of being able to buy online.  They didn’t create an extension of the buying experience online, so customers still felt that was the only place to go for toys.

Unfortunately, while relying on their in store experience, they chose not to revolutionize that either.  Thanks largely to the internet and the evolution of social media, kids are used to immediate gratification and constant entertainment.  They watch YouTube videos and then want to make slime or fly a drone.  Toys R Us could have created instore demonstrations and become the place parents brought their kids to have a hands-on experience with all the latest fads then bought all the materials in the store to continue the fun at home.

As a parent, if I’m going to get up, go to a store, hunt for parking and deal with crowds instead of buying online, a store must make it worth my time.  That typically means have really great prices or a tremendous experience that makes the extra effort worth it.  So, what are you doing in your business to keep up with the latest trends in your industry?

Are you a realtor and if so how do you capitalize on the fact that buyers have seen homes online long before they walk into them?  Are you a marketing and PR company and if so how do you make sure your products are talked about by the social media influencers of the day, or better yet, turn your brand into an influencer?  People don’t watch commercials the way they use to so what new and creative way are you reaching your customers?

Creativity and innovation use to provide a slight advantage, now they are the only path to long term success.  What are you doing to insure they live and breath in every decision your team makes?  How are you going to innovate your company into the next craze that leads to long term success?

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

 

 

No, no, no…I insist you should only pay me 64% of the position’s salary

No, no, no…I insist you should only pay me 64% of the position’s salary

Massachusetts has given us such treasures as New England Clam Chowder, the Red Sox, Boston cream pie and now they are the first state in this nation to truly do something about the pay gap that exists with so many private companies. Massachusetts is the first state to ban employers, both public and private, from asking for salary history during the recruiting and job offer process.  How does that affect the pay gap you ask?  It’s simple, when a person’s future salary is based, in part, on their past salary and their past salary was lower because they were a woman or a minority or a certain age, their future salary will remain lower than people in other groups and the gap, over time, only widens.  Playing the truly exhausting game of “salary catch up” becomes a futile task.

This may leave some people asking, “if we don’t know a person’s past salary how do we know what they expect to make now?”  Well here’s a novel idea, we should pay what the position is worth regardless of that individual’s salary has been in the past.  I’ve never heard a company say “since I’m only paying you 64% of what your white male counterpart makes I only expect 64% of the work.”  (as a black woman that is statistically what I make in comparison to my white male counterparts).

How does that play out if someone has less experience than someone else?  Again, I ask the question, do you lower the expectations once they are in the role?  If not, they should receive the same compensation.  Does that mean every person should make the exact same salary, not necessarily, there will always be differences in roles, expectations and abilities that should be factored in but if two people have the same title, are held accountable for the same outputs and judged against the same ruler why would one make 30-40% more than the other???

Many may be asking, “how did the pay gap come into existence, isn’t it common sense that people doing the same job should make the same money?”  Sadly, it isn’t…or at least historically it hasn’t been.  In the past, many companies used the “person” method of determining compensation meaning they paid the person what they felt that person needed instead of what the job was worth.  You heard comments like, “he’s probably the bread winner for his family so he needs extra income” or “she should be lucky she works here, if it weren’t for affirmative action we wouldn’t hire her” or my personal favorite, “she’s only working until she starts a family, it’s not like she really wants a career”.

Today you don’t hear those comments (I hope anyway) but some of those attitudes prevail.  More importantly, because they were so common in the past and many companies used a person’s past salary to help set their current salary it became a never-ending cycle of pay inequities that widened over the years to what we now see.

Speaking of that, what do we see now?  With  all of the legislation and education, isn’t the problem going away on its own…NO.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, on average, Hispanic Women earned only 54% of what a White Man earned FOR THE EXACT SAME JOB.  The chart below gives statistics for additional groups.

White Men Black Men Hispanic Men White Women Black Women Hispanic Women
100% 75.1% 67.2% 78% 64% 54%

 

Once inequities like that have been established, the only way to break them is to stop relaying on past salaries and pay everyone for the job they are doing, not the demographic box they check.

Thank you Massachusetts for one of my favorite basketball teams, thank you for fine institutions of higher learning and most of all THANK YOU for starting to solve an epidemic in our country!  I hope we see the rest of the country follow in your footsteps and stop asking people about the past when determining their future!

 

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

 

What is the TRUE Value of Diversity?

What is the TRUE Value of Diversity?

Most would agree that the true value of a team lies in its ability to solve problems, enhance performance and meet organizational goals better than any one individual can. As true as that notion is, there is one caveat that must be discussed; it only works if each of the team members brings a new, different, and DIVERSE mindset and point of view to the conversation.

When a well-known TV conglomerate wanted to increase its ad and subscriber revenue it created and offered different channels. Another way to phrase that is it DIVERSIFIED its product offerings. When a political hopeful wanted to gain support from an additional segment of the population they hired individuals who knew, understood and represented that demographic…in other words they DIVERSIFIED their staff.

Imagine for a moment that you are on a game show, you get to the final question and you have no idea what the answer is but you really want to win. You have one opportunity for someone to help but who do you call? You could reach out to your best friend. The person you grew up with, went to school with, partied with, cried with and celebrated with. They are your go to person. They have your back. They want you to win…but can they really help you? If you went to school with them didn’t you learn the same things? If you grew up with them didn’t you have the same experiences? If you learned the same things and had the same experiences, don’t you know the same things and conversely not know the same things?

In that situation, you need the person who learned things you didn’t, did things you couldn’t and experienced things you never knew existed…you need different knowledge and skills…you need DIVERSITY!

Diversity isn’t just about checking certain boxes on a form. It’s more than making sure your organization, city or group looks a certain way. It’s about forward movement, growth and excellence. It’s about doing things in a better, smarter and more efficient way. It’s about maximizing profits and minimizing risk. Diversity is about business success!

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence. If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture. CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

When Diversity Goes Wrong…

When Diversity Goes Wrong…

Shea Moisture may be the latest company to join the ever-growing list of companies committing diversity faux pas in the marketing arena. They join the ranks of Pepsi, and Baby K’Tan by sending the wrong marketing message (seemingly by accident) in an advertising campaign. Even though other companies have committed similar mistakes, theirs may be one of the more obvious offenses with potentially detrimental results. Why you ask??? Because they committed the number one marketing sin, they alienated their core market!

In case you haven’t heard what happened, let me give you a quick recap. Shea Moisture is a hair care brand that makes several products. Those products are OVERWHELMINGLY used by African-American women.  How overwhelmingly you ask, well according to the market data company InfoScout. African Americans have a marketing index of 824 compared to Caucasian having an index of 53, Asians of 96 and Hispanics of 123.  That means, compared to their average consumer, African Americans are 724% more likely to buy their products while Caucasians are 47% less likely.  724% that’s huge!!!! Shea Moisture is sold in the African American section of the hair care products aisle (did you know grocery stores haven’t been fully integrated yet…but that’s a conversation for another time). That is a well-defined core audience that should determine every decision Shea Moisture makes regarding everything they do… right?  Well, they didn’t.

In their most recent commercial, they cast 4 women, 1 woman who most assume to be multi-racial and 3 who appear to be Caucasian. Suffice it to say, their core audience was not happy! Consumers like to see themselves represented in the commercials for the products they buy. They want to feel the company understands who they are and that the company is talking to them directly. In a company where more than 90% of their sales come from African Americans, this was a miss…and the internet went crazy! People are calling for a boycott and asking consumers to stop using all Shea Moisture products.

But are people acting too quickly? Maybe Shea Moisture was trying to diversify their market. Isn’t that how companies grow? It absolutely is but, and this is a really big but, they must be careful how they do it. When a company has a strong core audience and they are attempting to reach out to a new market they have to tell their core what they are doing.     

For example, when Apple went from being a computer company to a lifestyle brand that sold everything from computers to phones to watches, they started the shift with their “Think Different” advertising campaign. They told their customers “we are changing”. When Starbucks went from being just a coffee shop to selling tea they announced their plans, talked about a partnership with Teavana that was coming soon and made sure they let everyone know they were still all about the coffee.

Shea Moisture didn’t do that. They didn’t run a campaign that said they were expanding their market, they didn’t say “don’t worry we are still and will always be here for you”. They simply ran a commercial that did not reflect who they were or who they sold to. They went against their culture and ignored the people who made them successful…and they didn’t even tell them why.

The key to successful growth will always be diversity – diversifying your products, diversifying your audience, and diversifying your revenue sources. However, like all diversity, it must be done in a way that the consumer understands.

Imagine you are a member of a gym. Everyone at the gym lives in your neighborhood because that was the unwritten rule of membership. The gym historically catered to your neighborhood. Suddenly, the gym started offering memberships to people 10 miles away. They put up billboards in other cities, they ran ads in other states and they didn’t tell you why. As a long time member, your first thought may be, are they forgetting about me, am I going to be pushed to the side and not receive the attention I’m used to getting, am I no longer good enough.

The truth may be, they are opening new locations and trying to build interest in anticipation of that but their lack of communication to you, their core audience and current members, puts them at risk of losing you to a shiny new gym who is paying you the attention they used to give you.

Shea Moisture (and all other companies out there with clearly defined bases) people understand you wanting and needing to grow. Everyone gets why you want to expand your market but can you give us a heads up? Can you assure your core, the people who made you the huge success you are today, that you are still here to support them? A little communication goes a long way in the consumer marketing world and your core needs to hear from you!

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence. If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture. CPH Consulting will help grow your business! You can reach Christy at Christy@ChristyPruitt-Haynes.com

Is your Mission Statement worth the paper it’s written on?

Is your Mission Statement worth the paper it’s written on?

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard about the United Airlines situation that occurred on Sunday, April 9, 2017.  In case you missed it let me quickly summarize the situation, United Airlines, like many airlines, oversold a flight.  They, like most airlines, asked for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for taking a later flight and some sort of financial consideration (likely a credit with United to use later).  No one volunteered, now here is where the situation departs the normal course of events, instead of increasing their financial offer they elected to make 4 passengers give up their seat.  This practice is legal but rarely used.  The more common approach (and more customer friendly approach) is to increase the financial offer until you get volunteers.

After 2 passengers begrudgingly gave up their seats, United approached the third passenger and he refused.  Their answer was to drag him from the plane kicking and screaming…literally!  The passenger was injured in the process and the witnesses, other United customers, were very upset and lobbied on that passenger’s behalf.

Aside from the physical harm, flight delay and humiliation United Airlines caused, I looked at it from a purely business standpoint.  I evaluated this action against the mission statement of United Airlines.  United, like all businesses, exist to make money, I have no issue with that but their mission statement tells us how they have chosen to make their money.  The first line of their customer commitment is, “We are committed to providing a level of service to our customers that makes us a leader in the airline industry.”  I don’t work for United but I’m sure dragging a customer down the aisle who did not pose a threat to himself or other passengers goes against that notion.

But let’s look at it from another standpoint.  That same weekend Delta Airlines paid one family $11,000 to give up their seats on several oversold flights.  $11,000, obviously that puts the customer first and provides great customer service (a part of their mission) but that can’t be fiscally prudent, can it?  Well yes, it actually is!  How you ask, because $11,000 is less than $800,000!!!  Why is $800,000 a significant number?  That’s the amount of value United Airlines stock has lost less than 24 hours after the release tape of the passenger being dragged down the aisle was released.

So let’s review:

  • United didn’t provide, “…a level of service to our customers that makes us a leader…”

  • They lost over $800,000 (that amount doesn’t include the yet to be determined amount they will undoubtedly have to pay in damages to the passenger)

  • They will surely experience a decline in ticket purchases

In short United failed at achieving their financial goals and mission statement success.  All of this could have been avoided if they did one simple thing…align their culture and actions to their mission statement.  In my earlier blog on the importance of mission statements I wrote, Excellent organizations are full of employees who not only know the company’s mission statement, but incorporate it into their daily professional lives.”   United airlines did the work to come up with a comprehensive statement of values.  They added it to their web-site and probably talked about it in all employee meetings but they missed what many organizations miss, they didn’t live it.  They didn’t reward employees for abiding by it.  They didn’t insist that employees do what they said they were going to do.

What’s the lesson here?  How can your company avoid a United Airlines level debacle?  LIVE YOUR MISSION!  Help your employees make the best decision for the long term good or your organization.  Profits will always matter but company reputation drives profits, customer opinion drives profits, public perception drives profits.  In the age of social media, perception is reality and those perceptions are formed at the speed of the internet.

What is your company’s mission statement?  Do you know it and if so do you consider that mission when you are making decisions that affect the business?  More importantly, do your employees know it and consider it when making decisions?  If you answered no to either of those questions then you may be setting yourself up for a similar fate.  Luckily, for you, it’s not too late.  Make sure your culture and decisions support your mission statement.  Make sure your employees consider the long-term effect of their short-term actions.  Make sure you aren’t the next company who is dragging your customers kicking and screaming and losing money every step of the way!

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!