This story was told to me by Mindshare’s VP of retail business solutions, Shane Evans. It features a multiple Employee of the Month award winner from one of the nearby Walgreens corner stores—a young man named Eric Marks who credits his older brother for instilling work ethic in him during groundskeeping days at his grandmother’s house:
“He was one of those good workers. We’d go to my grandma’s place, and we’d work on her yard. And he’d drop dead working—so, I was like, oh, I’m not dead yet, so I’d better keep on working.”
A LONG TRIP HOME
Shane hopped on a plane in Salt Lake headed to Dallas, TX. It was Tuesday, February 12. It would be a quick trip that would see him return in time for Valentine’s Day with his wife, Emily, and their four children.
Back at home, Shane’s two little boys took to chasing a balloon around the house. Emily was washing dishes as they ran in and out of view. During one of those out-of-view moments, Easton (age 2) managed to get the inside track on his older brother, Bronson (age 5), earning himself a nudge toward the balloon, and, ultimately, down a flight of stairs. Emily rushed to pick him up at the bottom of the stairs. As she held him, she noticed one of his arms was completely limp—something wasn’t right.
By the time Shane landed in Dallas, Easton was in the hospital, Emily was waiting on the x-rays, and one worry-filled voicemail was waiting on his phone. After taking a second to process the gut-wrenching news, Shane and I worked out a little tag team and made arrangements to get him back to his family immediately. I was already in Salt Lake City, so I went to the hospital to play his part until he returned.
BRAVE AND BATTERED
Back at the hospital, Easton was being brave. The x-rays had come back showing a broken elbow, which would require surgery, two pins and, of course, a thick cast. Shane made it to the hospital in time to kiss Easton and read him a quick story before his surgery.
When Easton emerged from the operating room, the decision was made to send Mom home with the other children while Shane and Easton stayed the night together. Emily would come back in the morning to pick them up.
Shane and Easton got very little sleep that night. Easton was unable to get comfortable in his new cast, and, on top of that, the nurses were instructed to check in on him every hour until morning. When morning finally arrived, Emily was there to take them home. On the drive back, the three of them stopped by their neighborhood Walgreens for a routine visit (pick up a prescription and a new toy). However, when they walked in, the visit was anything but routine.
THE FOUR IMPRESSIONS
Shane and Emily have visited this Walgreens almost weekly since the store opened a few years ago. When they entered, Walgreens associate Eric Marks was re-stocking somewhere between the photo kiosk and the front desk. He looked Shane in the eye and welcomed him warmly, the first of four things Shane noticed during this exceptional Walgreens visit.
This is Shane’s account:
The day we walked in, my little guy had his arm in a cast, Eric was over between photo and front end, and he took the opportunity to say, “Hey, thanks for coming in.” No one else was up front. It was a little thing, but I noticed.
Emily went to the back of the store to fill our prescription while Easton and I began searching for a toy. Eric came by and asked, “Hey, is there anything we can help you find today?” That was bonus point number two.
As we went through the checkout process, with Eric at the register, he asked me an upsell question, would I like any gum that was on sale? The question was asked in a very conversational way, which is hard for many associates to do. I didn’t buy it, but I noticed it and appreciated the fact that he offered in a warm way.
The lasting impression that he made, though, was this—I had the cart and I had the little guy in my hands, and I was pulling him out of the cart, and Eric had customers behind me that he needed to check out—but he said to me, “You know what, don’t worry about the cart; let me take it back for you. You just take your bag and have a nice day.”
So there are four basic things Eric did for me:
1. Friendly welcome (even though he was busy) 2. Engagement during the shopping experience 3. Upsell in a conversational manner 4. Left me with a lasting impression
JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
The entire experience is what Red Shoes embodies, because it’s the little things that make a difference. Even though Eric was busy, he offered a warm welcome. It would have been easy for Eric to find tasks to keep him busy, but instead he sought Shane out to see if he could help him find anything.
And when it came time to help Shane with his purchase, Eric showed that his thoughts were squarely on Shane and his needs as an individual and a father. Only once those were taken care of did he move on to the next person—probably with equal focus on their needs. He didn’t view his checkout line as a task to burn through and push out the door. He saw it as a set of distinct individuals he wanted to serve according to their needs, one by one, as they stepped up to check out.
That’s how you leave a lasting impression.