Reebok India spice up their VM skills
TRC lead a market visit to India with our client, Ryan Clinkscales – Director of Global VM for Reebok. Our objectives: to review and improve retail excellence and assess how Team India has translated the global VM guidelines relevant to their market.
Our flight left London at midday and arrived in New Delhi just after midnight. The journey from the airport to the hotel was frightening in the heavy traffic, dust and heat, even at this time of night! Both of us closed our eyes and held our breath as the driver swerved across the wrong side of the road into the oncoming traffic. Scary.
Security there is tight. Our car was stopped and checked by the guards at the hotel gate, we had to pass through airport style screening, have our bags x-rayed and luckily escaped a full body search before we even reached reception. Check in was great, they did it in all in our rooms, just what was needed after such a harrowing journey! Hotels there take service really seriously and are always looking to go that extra mile. Perfection.
If you’ve been to India you’ll know it has an unusual time difference: +5 hours and 30 minutes vs GMT. It makes tracking time at home in the UK a little challenging and even more so for Ryan who was watching India vs Boston time! Confusing.
Day one, 8am. The local VM manager Ahsen arrived with a driver to collect us. As we stepped out of the air conditioned hotel we instantly felt the 38 degree heat. Blistering. Our task was to complete as many store visits as possible in the time we allocated. Travelling around by car in India is very time consuming, the roads are always very busy and congested with all modes of transport, not to mention the odd cow here and there. A 25 mile journey can easily take an hour and a half. Frustrating.
The store visits helped us to quickly establish the status quo compared to our last trip to India. We also used this time to plan the rest of our stay, as we were going to be managing a practical training workshop for 25 people, all visiting from the different regions of the country.
Retailing in India is unique, to say the least. One minute you can be in a very well appointed shopping mall, with everything that we have come to expect elsewhere in the world, the next you are on a congested and unfinished road, where a building owner may have sold off or rented out the ground floor of his premises to a retailer, and when you look up, you can see washing hanging out above the store signage! India challenges conventional thinking about logical adjacencies and what sits next to what. Confusing.
At the end of a long day we met with Dhruv (Director of Retail) who shared with us his new retail strategy, and we updated him on our observations, and the plans for the next few days…. thankfully we all shared the same vision. When I got back to my room, I found a replacement can of shaving foam, with a note from house keeping… They really do take service very seriously there. Grateful.
Day two started with breakfast in the hotel. The attention to detail continued. They remembered our names and offered me my jasmine tea, because that’s what I’d had yesterday! After breakfast the restaurant manager set us up with work space, where Ryan and I developed the workshop framework, along with some fun practical activities, that would help everyone to learn and remember.
At the workshop we met each of the 25 delegates drawn from both Reebok employees and Franchise partners. All of the training was aimed at further developing the retail Brand standards, and overcoming some of the challenges we had already identified. Everyone got really involved, and the entire group was very positive. It was interesting to discover a real competitive spirit amongst the group – they wanted to get things right and be praised for it, there was a drive to perform highly, improve and to learn, as well as a desire for people to feel good about their personal achievement. Everyone left the workshop on a high. Happy.
Day three was about pulling everything together, checking the delegates’ practical understanding, and setting future objectives, before we return back to India again. At the store we split the group into teams, and gave them a part of the retail space to review, using their critical eye based on what they had learned the day before. The teams then shared their observations with everyone. They took time to create a detailed plan of how to correct everything that they are able to change, and once we approved each of the Teams’ plans, they moved on to make the refinements. It was a fun packed 3 hours, and it all happened before the store even opened! Exhausted.
At the end of the session, everyone wanted to have their pictures taken with Ryan and myself. The Team are very proud of these pictures, in fact it feels like they saw us as good friends rather than work colleagues, and that was humbling. These are exciting times for Reebok India. The Brand is growing rapidly, sometimes having up to 3 stores opening in one week. It’s so important for people from a global HQ to visit India and invest time together with the wonderful people who work so hard for the Brand.
These visits, and the training we provide, are really paying off. We are seeing real progress. The team at Reebok India are making great steps forward and further developing their VM competencies. I will be returning to India before the end of 2014 to continue the support that TRC provides, and to check on their progress.