November 19, 2009

The Men’s Wearhouse: Success in a Declining Industry

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:44 pm by ctennert

Men’s Wearhouse was premised on a great idea that is very true:  Men typically do not enjoy shopping as women do.  It is genius that Zimmer founded his company as a stand-alone store that offers great suits at reasonable prices.  Men now did not have to walk through department stores, as they had to in the past- they could just cut right to the chase, and look at some great suits available to them. 

Zimmer’s idea of human capital is very smart.  He felt as though his employees were assets of untapped potential.  He also employs the idea of servant leadership, whether it be how the mangers treat the staff, or how he treats his stockholders and executives.  This is an ideal approach, especially in a high-end retail business, because essentially the salesmen, or, suit consultants, act as servant leaders to the customers.  The consultants are the experts in their field, due to extensive training and experience, and they cater to all the customers’ needs.

Men’s Wearhouse claims they installed one of the first employee stock ownership plans, which is another imperative aspect to a business who is catering to their employees before their customers.  As the industry was declining, Men’s Wearhouse was able to excel because of the way they treat their employees. 

They claim they pay above industry standards, but a typical consultant at the Men’s Wearhouse makes not even $25,000 per year.  The company usually promotes from within, so if you were an employee who wanted a long-term future with the company, you would really have to stick it out for the first couple years on a salary that is barely livable.  While it is great Men’s Wearhouse promotes from within, there was no training available for mangers.  Every employee goes through the mixer/training at the beginning of their careers at Men’s Wearhouse, but there does not seem to be any continued training after that.  I also think it is dangerous for sales associates and managers to socialize together constantly off work hours, because then the boss/friend line becomes too thin, which I have seen this cause problems during work hours. 

Men’s Warehouse hires people based on their personality, and enthusiasm.  This reminded me of S.W. Airlines.  However, Men’s Warehouse trains people how to interview?  I wish the case would have elaborated on this concept, and had given examples, because I was confused as to what exactly this entails.  I understand they want people who fit into their culture, however, which I believe is a smart tactic.  Also, they will do everything in their power NOT to fire someone, and will exhaust all other possibilities before a firing happens such as a demotion, or a transfer to another store. 

When Men’s Wearhouse likes something their employee is doing, they use positive reinforcement, which is a big one for me.  I am a strong advocate of positive reinforcement, because I think most of the time mangers tend to concentrate on the negative, and only give feedback when something wrong happens.

Selling with soul is their theme for their employees, and they want their consultants to reach potential not only as a Men’s Wearhouse employee, but as a spouse, parent, friend, and person.  COME ON!  That is cheesy, and really at the end of the day, you are selling men’s suits.  It seems sort of insulting that the company thinks working at Men’s Wearhouse is going to make you a better person in your personal life.  I do like the fact that they use constructive criticism, and say it is the single best way to raise someone’s self-esteem.

Cheesy sales theme aside, it is good Men’s Wearhouse wants their employees to be shining stars, because then they will be likely to benefit the company.  They want everyone to sell with soul, and go above and beyond for the customers.  I go above and beyond for my clients everyday, so does this mean I am selling with soul?  It is a job, let’s face it.  What I do for a living does not dictate how I am as a person outside of work. 

As a fellow salesperson, I think it is unrealistic that Men’s Wearhouse expects their employees to not judge or stereotype customers.  I agree that everyone should be treated equally, not  matter what, but we all have our own instincts on determining if a person will be a buyer or not.  It is human nature to size people up, whether we admit it or not. 

After all, everything Men’s Wearhouse is doing seems to be working, because for the most part, they have the right attitude about their human capital.

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