Men’s Warehouse –“Your gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it”

Editorial:  Since I was surprised to find that this blog never posted on my wordpress.com account, I would have liked to have titled it “Men’s Warehouse, where ya been?”

Based on the enormous amount of money spent on TV advertising, it would be surprising to find someone in the US who either didn’t know what Men’s Warehouse does or couldn’t recall the phrase You’re gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it”. 

By all accounts, Men’s Warehouse has been a great success.  They have had phenomenal growth (30%) since George Zimmer opened his first store back in 1973 in Houston in a time when competitors were shutting their doors. So what did he/they do right?  There were several things:

  1. He has a servant leadership focus—he is so focused on it he even included it in his training manuals
  2. They are focused on mentoring—he has a “high touch” mentality, meaning that it is important for him and other high profile employees to go to the stores and be visible and that they have off-site training to get people more entrenched at Men’s Warehouse. It shows employees that they matter to the company.
  3. They are focused on training, though it is basically only internally done.  They train not only to provide information, but also to educate people on the company culture.
  4. He has the right focus when it comes to the company’s stakeholders:  employees first, customers second, vendors third, communities fourth and then shareholders fifth.   He understands that if you get the first and second one right, everything else will fail into place.
  5. They have different job titles and descriptions for people to ensure that they do the best possible job at the level they are supposed to be performing.
  6. While they have a salary and commission compensation system, they use team incentives to help stave off “sharking”.
  7. They learn from others—George Zimmer learned from Nordstrom’s mistakes…
  8. There is a clear career path there
  9. They measure everything—they use every bit of data they collect to help improve the top and bottom line.
  10. While a majority of the measures on the performance review were the same, there were some measures that where specific to the job title…thus, making the review a little more focused on what the person actually is supposed to be doing in the store rather than something less concrete.

While there are a lot of positives to the Men’s Warehouse, I do have a few concerns.  They are:

  1. Senior management is made up of a lot of George’s friends, listed in the case as employees that have been with George forever.  This may indicate a potential for group think depending upon the attitudes and personalities of the members of senior management.
  2. Promotions totally from within—while this is a great motivating tactic for employees, it could spell disaster from a “we have always done it that way” perspective.
  3. No outside management courses—again this could keep Men’s Warehouse from trying anything new.
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