When District Managers Distract

Last Wednesday as my Grandmother and I entered Pier 1 Imports and for the snowiest day of the year the store actually had three different sets of customers. The store was also filled with the laughter of five Pier 1 employees, only one wearing the blue Pier 1 apron.  One wore only a sweater and a name tag, so I assumed she was a manager and the other three appeared to be corporate level, district managers perhaps?  They posed with the blue aproned associate who held a “Sales Associate of the Quarter” for a picture. They discussed how the three arriving had not been planned but happened due to some of them being snowed out of Nashville.

We were only there to grab some placemats for my dining room table because I was desperate for a fresh new look.  I held my two year old daughter while my grandmother sat against a barstool that stood across from the wall of placemats.  We started to mix and match while I overheard a woman coveting the beaded blue round placemat.  The Sales Associate of the Quarter dove in promptly to help her, “We do not have anymore of those in stock, but our store 40 miles away has one, maybe I can call you if one of those managers come this way?”

The blue aproned woman carried our selection behind the register and I went on to look at headboards upon the request of my grandmother who was presently staying in my barren guest bedroom. I found one I liked and asked the lady with the blue apron if it was available for a king and if they could deliver to my home.  All the while, standing at the register was a lady with 4 or 5 of Pier One’s 50 dollar embroidered Tile Pillows piled on the register. With four high level managers and a preoccupied sales associate somehow this woman managed to stand for nearly ten minutes without any help from anyone. That was a 200-250 dollar sale just standing around ignored, save my sales associate of the quarter who finally had to holler over to the gaggle of managers who were laughing and visiting to have someone check out the poor woman. “Oh I didn’t know anyone was standing at the register,” the woman with the black sweater and name tag (store manager?) tried to excuse the woman’s wait, but no sales person’s back should ever be to the front door or the register, much less a manager’s.

My sales associate in the blue apron continued to look up my headboard and provided me with her findings:

  • it was on clearance
  • it did come in king
  • but that there was no delivery available

I looked over at my grandmother, “That’s fine, we can always find one somewhere else that will deliver.” Honestly no harm, no foul, we will just take the placemats.

But the sales associate of the quarter can not give up so easily when upper management is present, “You could find someone with a truck.”

“I don’t really know anyone here in town, we just moved here before the holidays and are only just now really getting settled in.”

“You should join a church, you will find someone with a truck at a church.”

“Okay I will consider that, thank you.” I understood she needed to try everything she could, though I felt pulling religion into it was a bit much.

There was a beat of silence and then it happened, “what denomination are you?”

I stood in silence…I was too shocked to respond.

“I mean, I am very familiar with all the churches in the area, if you just tell me your denomination I can suggest a church for you.”

Really, in my personal opinion, as a sales associate personal questions such as this should not be broached unless originally invited or brought up by the customer.

Now, I don’t want you to have a wrong impression, Pier 1 is a fantastic company, with great customer service, these are a series of instances which should not reflect on the entire company, but instead be used as a tool of in field training. And although my sales associate was incredibly kind, and desperately attempting to be helpful, she instead of insisting I find a truck could have just as easily of approached one of her DM’s to ask if there were some sort contracting delivery service I could utilize, or ask if there was anything further they could offer as a store. If your DM’s are present in a store do not allow them to distract you or intimidate you but instead allow them to help you. They are there to coach and aid in any of your store’s dilemmas, they are there to answer your questions, they will respect your questions and not look down on you for them.

Pier 1 Rated a 3.0 out of 5 on glassdoor.com

4 thoughts on “When District Managers Distract

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