- Going away is like going home, sorta.
When I travel to a different market, I always know that there are going to be things that feel very familiar to the environment in which I normally work. The showroom and aesthetics are going to be pretty similar to my normal store location. The product will be pretty much the same and, for the most part, the reference materials will be in about the same place so that I can help customers with ease. There are also a lot of things that are different. For instance, we usually try to find unique buildings to use as showrooms throughout the nation. The DC showroom started out as a car dealership in the early 20th century and the Atlanta showroom was originally a meat processing plant. Atlanta even has the original smoke room as part of their showroom space. Needless to say, with such unique floorplans I rely heavily on the kindness and memory of Design Associates that work there to point out the location of product for me.
- We hire good people.
I naturally think the staff that I work with in DC is the best, but I always enjoy visiting other markets. Not just because I get to travel, but because I get to put faces with names and develop working relationships with people in other stores. I’m always struck by the consistently fun, interesting and professional people that I encounter. The Atlanta staff is no exception. This is my third time in as many years to visit the Atlanta market and I feel like I’m not just developing working relationships, but friendships. It’s always fun to catch up and see what everyone has been doing as well as get to know those that have been hired since my last visit. It’s amazing the things you can learn from just hanging out on the showroom floor and talking…..which brings me to my next point…
- The biggest things can often come from the smallest conversations.
When I travel, I often have an agenda of meetings or conversations that I plan to have to take advantage of having a colleague standing in front of me. But sometimes the biggest moments come from, again, just hanging out and talking. I work a lot with custom windows and in DC we are always working to see how we can engage the customer more with the product. Without going into too much detail, in Atlanta I happened to be watching an associate working with a customer in the Design Center by custom windows. He was working with solar shades and did something so simple but effective and helpful for the customer that I knew I had to take it back to my store. It really was my “ah ha” moment of the trip.
- Every store has its own vibe.
While every store is an extension of the brand and has a similar look and feel, each is also a reflection of its own community. In DC we incorporate clothing from nearby Howard University in our Room & Board Kids department display. We also highlight local producers of food items in our Everyday Dining area. Atlanta does the same. For instance, they highlight local preserves made by Preserving Place, a great store in the shopping complex that makes their preserves on site. Atlanta also features cookbooks throughout the showroom of regional interest. The city has a plethora of great chefs and there were more than a few recipes I noted while checking out the display. I think it makes for a more intimate shopping experience and focuses on our goal to really be part of the community in which we’re located.
- The food is amazing!
Really, did you think I could write about visiting Atlanta and not talk about the food? It doesn’t take too long of working at Room & Board to find that most associates are foodies. Big foodies. And most will gladly talk to you about the food they like. It can be anything from an original Cheetos recipe to recommendations for the best restaurant in the city. Either way, I’m not going to be disappointed. Ok, truthfully, I haven’t tried the Cheetos recipe yet….but the next time I’m down, I might!