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AGENT PROVOCATEUR Common courtesy I


t’s the silly season where all the agents, sales representatives and suppliers are all chasing round the country to try and beat the competition to the best retailers, to get the biggest orders, and make the most money. That’s the theory but if you are like


my friend who is also in the business, he tries to be as kind, helpful and considerate to his customers as possible and organises stockrooms in hotels and large halls and these events cost him a fortune but are not always great value for money. All his shoes are laid out and retailers can come and buy without the trials and tribulations of consumers, phone calls and staff constantly interrupting while the intricate buying process takes place. Don’t get me wrong my friend thinks it benefits him not having to carry ALL those cases up that very narrow staircase to the office, and the fact that he can see so many more of his customers in a day than he would if he had to travel between appointments, but is it really cost effective, does it always work? Well mostly, that is until you get those who do not have the manners to keep their appointments. He tells me that during a recent stockroom (a quite large stockroom with many other exhibitors showing), a number of retailers who made appointments to come, just didn’t turn up. Not so much as a phone call to say that they would not be attending! Now if that happened to me I would be more than cheesed off, so upon reflection I should be preening my feathers and thinking what a lucky person I have been – although maybe I am just better looking, or my stock is so perfect no-one dares miss it (okay I can dream). The poor guy was VERY frustrated as he had organised an extra day at the hotel (time and cost implications) to see these retailers, who for some strange reason just didn’t turn up. In fairness to them they may well have had the good manners to apologise later, legitimate reasons are acceptable, family illness, staff shortages, car accident, won the lottery and never coming back from the Caribbean etc. but a phone call on the day is not really out of the question and may have at least helped him to reorganise his other appointments and cancel the extra day. Well that is the theory, but in practice the hotels are pretty wise to refunds and it is like getting Osama Bin Laden out of his cave, seemingly impossible. If we agents/suppliers/sales representatives are late or have to


cancel for whatever reason I would hope that on EVERY occasion we would always have the courtesy to phone the customer and explain why we were going to be late or miss an appointment all together (we do do that, don’t we?). If any of my colleagues have


just read this and are feeling guilty, then don’t let me down again, please do better next time. In ‘t’ olden days we were called ‘gentlemen of the road’ (apologies to our lady colleagues). There was a good reason for this, we all had manners. There are still those that remember some salesmen being chauffeured to their customers, and ‘Jeeves’ would stand to attention and carry certain cases on demand from the car. The only time that would happen now is if Mr. (or Mrs.) Salesman had had too many Port & Lemon’s at the Dog and Duck a few months earlier, and Mr. Plod had nabbed him around the corner and decided to add his licence to the magistrates tombola. Suffice to say, common courtesy will never go out of fashion and should be adhered to every time.


The poor guy was VERY frustrated as he had organised an extra day at the hotel (time and cost implications) to see these retailers, who for some strange reason just didn’t turn up. In fairness to them they may well have had the good manners to apologise later, legitimate reasons are acceptable, family illness, staff shortages, car accident, won the lottery and never coming back from the Caribbean etc.


So, going back to my original rant ‘the friend who patiently


waited for his retailers to turn up’, there were no winners. The brands who were sharing were fed up because they missed seeing a few new faces in the hope of someone else to sell to, they are now concerned that he was so out of pocket he wont want to join in next time (and without doubt having several brands under the same roof does help spread the cost), the retailers now have to have several days of interruptions whilst each of the brands make contact and have to travel to see them (not great for the already busy road systems and greenhouse gases), and the poor chap has had to pay for a hotel which was not worth his while and still fork out a fortune on diesel to get around the country – as well as having a few wasted days not being on the road. There is an old poem ‘for the want of a horseshoe nail the battle was lost’ and the same could be said these days for a simple phone call.


12 • FOOTWEAR TODAY • APRIL 2011 www.footweartoday.co.uk


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