Role That Leadership Plays in Increasing SalesInterview

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Interview #1: My first interview is with Ellie I.., the assistant manager of Sandro Boutique in South Coast Plaza. The interview is structured along four questions

In what ways does leadership impact shopping experiences?

I think leadership is very important. Everything that you see and experience in the store comes from leadership. You have different types of leadership, like the people at head office for Sandro, the people who run South Coast Plaza and then there's the leadership right here at the store, my boss and myself. We provide the vision, the guidance and the direction. So there are a lot of leadership tasks, and they can divided among all the different people who occupy leadership positions. I do not have the vision for the store -- that comes from head office -- and I don't really get to choose who the target market is either. But in my role, I lead the sales and service team in their daily work. So a lot of the in-store experience is my responsibility. I have to envision what the customer will experience when they come through the door, and then I have to make that vision a reality. So I train people, I explain what they need to do, and I do this from the perspective of the customer, so that everybody is aware of what the expectations are when someone walks through that door. So leadership has everything to do with the shopping experience. And I have to ensure that everything I want to happen with respect to the shopping experience is happening, and if that's not the case I have to figure out how to fix it.

Q2: What are customers looking for from leadership in shopping?

EI: I have been in this business for a few years now, and there's kind of two ways to answer this. On one hand, customers are looking for something unique each time -- there is no singular generic customer . Each one is different, and that's always important to remember. But the other way to look at it is that customers are always looking for perfection. They don't think about leadership that much, really, unless they think that it isn't there. Sandro is a pretty recognized brand. We're all over the world, and customers definitely have high expectations for Sandro. So when someone comes in, they expect that the store is going to be well-organized, that the staff are going to be enthusiastic and attentive, and that any problem that might arise gets fixed right away. In leadership, they will notice when things are not working all that well. So my job is to make sure that they notice nothing, meaning that there are no problems or issues. So if you went back and asked the customer, they would say, "Oh, that store must have been well-run because my experience there was perfect."

Q3: How do you think current leadership impact customer shopping experiences in Sandro?

EI: We make it happen. You actually, if you're a customer, do not see a lot of what the leaders are doing because most of it takes place behinds the scenes, even when the store is closed. It's almost like theater -- you do all this work and then the customer only sees the finish product of months of hard work. So that's the expectation -- a high level of service, great fashions, and that people will find something that they want in our stores. And it all comes down to a lot of hard work behind the scenes. I mean, I think we already went over this a couple of questions ago, what leadership does to impact the shopping experiences, so the same as what I said then.

Q4: What are the expected shopping experiences that customers are looking for from Sandro?

EI: Other than perfection? Customers look for clothes, and service, so that is pretty much what we need to deliver. The clothes are basic, classic, stylish. That comes from the head office leadership, how they are able to stay on top of trends and how they are able to always anticipate the latest fashions In terms of my job, part of that is ordering inventory to make sure that we are not out of the things that people are looking for. This is a hard part of the job, really, because you have to know about forecasting. And with staff, it's about finding the right people and giving them the training that they need to be the best, and give the best service. So a lot of what the expectations the customers have comes down to the things that we as leaders do behind the scenes.

Q5: How do you think current leadership works in Sandro?

EI: Current leadership is working fairly well I would say. The company is doing well and this store in particular is doing well. But that's by design, right. There are leaders above me, above my boss, all the way back to head office. They measure things -- things like sales and customer satisfaction and profits. So they know when someone is not doing such a great job at leadership And when they identify that, it is the job of leaders higher up to deal with that, and address that issue. The whole chain of leadership exists to ensure that all the people within the organization are performing at their best. So I think right now we are doing very well at my store level, and that makes a contribution to the company as a whole, and Sandro is still growing.

Interview #2. The second interview is with Kayla S., who is a clerk at the store. She has worked in a few similar stores and so it seemed like she would provide good perspective about leadership in the store.

Interpretive Notation:

This interview went pretty well. I thought that Ellie was open and honest in her responses. She didn't say anything negative, or downplayed that strongly, which is probably the biggest weakness. I found in my observations that there were things like training where there was evidence of staff not being trained before being put onto the store floor. So there is some discrepancy between the way the assistant manager Ellie has portrayed management's work and what my assessment of that work was. Still, I felt that the interview was otherwise quite honest, and that I was getting straight answers.

Q1: In what ways does leadership impact shopping experiences?

KS: Leadership is something that we see as employees. They have to handle the more businessy side of things, but then they also have to create the right atmosphere in the store. I think they have a pretty hard job, actually. For me, when I come into work I get into a pretty happy frame of mind, but that's because they have really made this a good place to work. I've done a few jobs like this, and Sandro is the best. They treat you well, they train you. You always know what your expected to do, and they help to make you better rather than just running you down when you make a mistake. I think that becomes reflected in how all the staff approach coming into work. We like being here. So when you're talking about what the customer sees, and how leadership affects that, the leaders are the people who not only make all of this work but they really set the tone for the energy and good vibes you get in the store. The customer sees a smiling associate, but some of that is the leadership because they make it so that people actually want to be here.

Q2: What are customers looking for from leadership in shopping?

KS: That's a funny question. I don't know. The customer wants a good shopping experience. I know before I worked in the business I never really thought about how a good shopping experience happened. I might have been like "oh that sales associate is having a really bad day" or whatever, just thinking that it came down to the individual person, but I guess some of that is about creating the right atmosphere for everybody to be at their best. So if a customer actually sat down to think about it -- and they probably wouldn't do that but you never know -- they would think that a really well-run store is a pretty good experience, and the service is really good and nothing is really going wrong. They might think that leadership has something to do with that..

Q3: How do you think current leadership impact customer shopping experiences in Sandro?

KS: Well, I don't know about anybody else, like the CEO or whatever, but I know that Ellie and Jen are great people. They are a lot of fun to work with. They started out the same as the rest of us so they really relate to what our jobs are, and some of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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