Fairweather: customers get the personal touch

Incentive programs at Fairweather aim to give store customers the personal help they need to stay in step with the latest fashions.The fashion retail chain's motivational programs bring employees up to speed on the latest wardrobe introductions or fashion issues.The hope...

Incentive programs at Fairweather aim to give store customers the personal help they need to stay in step with the latest fashions.

The fashion retail chain’s motivational programs bring employees up to speed on the latest wardrobe introductions or fashion issues.

The hope is staff will have something new and fresh to say when serving customers.

Bonnie Shore, marketing manager at Fairweather, warns shoppers will not tolerate confusion in a competitive retail market.

‘We put much energy in our advertising, merchandising, and in staff information packages to ensure shoppers coming in our stores know exactly what our fashion focus is at any one time,’ Shore says.

Motivational programs involve marketing-oriented contests held during seasonal selling periods when fashions change, or just before Christmas and Valentine’s Day, for example.

Shore says the contests aim first at ensuring employees greet all customers coming through the front door.

‘You wouldn’t want anyone walking into your house without being greeted,’ she says.

The stress on customer service comes as Fairweather and other fashion retailers buckle down under recessionary pressures and improve their business fundamentals.

Intangibles

Store managers look to intangibles when measuring customer service: the number of compliments employees receive from shoppers; how they highlight new products in-store; or the time they spend recruiting people in Fairweather’s Preferred Customer programs.

Incentive awards include theatre and ballet tickets, added discounts on Fairweather fashion products and gift baskets. Other one-time gifts include makeovers or massages at local health spas.

Distinguishes program

Fairweather distinguishes its incentive programs from standard remuneration involving cash bonuses for attaining or exceeding sales targets.

The fashion chain’s policy towards remuneration programs is under review, and so remains under wraps until the spring.

Fairweather publicizes its incentive programs through a weekly internal newsletter, ‘In Focus,’ sent to all managers and employees. The publication lists contest winners, often including photos and stories.

Staff are also told of all new promotions and product launches so they can make use of that information when serving customers.

Shore adds Fairweather is looking for the greatest number of winners from its incentive programs.

‘It’s like a lottery: the more people winning, the more they will get excited about the contests and look forward to them,’ she says.