The Customers

Blog #56 – Nordstrom Floor Watcher

So, in Blog #55 I talked about getting promoted to 2nd Asst. at Nordstrom Arden Fair. In this blog I want to talk about being a Floor Watcher.

So we got through the prep work of getting ready for Half Yearly, and I got promoted to 2nd Asst. during that time. So along with the promotion comes the responsibility of watching the floor. But what does a floor watcher do?

Being a “Floor Watcher”

Usually in a Nordstrom Department shoe floor (at least back in the 80’s & 90’s) you have a Buyer who manages the floor, A 1st Asst and a 2nd Asst.  Some larger floors even have a 3rd Asst. So whoever the opening Manager is, takes the “Floor Watcher” clip board and fills out the info. This info includes the following:

  • The sales team
  • Hours they are scheduled
  • Time slots for lunches
  • The hourly sales goals from last year
  • Notes during the day

Then they direct the morning team on how the floor should be re-set and walks the back room and fills out the stock assignments for the day. Right before opening there is a team meeting to talk about goals and things going on and an item is pecked out for the Shoe of the day”. Usually a new shoe or a hot item.

The List

Once the store opens a “List” is usually made and only a few people are on the floor selling while the others stay in the back until they are called out to sell. This gives them time to work on their stock assignment while in the back. Usually the list is made by the order people arrive to work to encourage “timeliness”.

When the mid Manager arrives the morning manager takes a lunch break and informs the new Floor Watcher what has been going on and the trend in business so far. Same thing happens when the closing manager arrives.

During a Sale like Half yearly it gets chaotic sometimes. It is the responsibility of the floor watcher to make sure all customers are being taken care of and approached. This usually means the floor watcher is in constant motion. Some of the responsibilities are:

  • All customers approached within 60 seconds of hitting the tile of the department.
  • Making sure the floor is neat at all times
  • Displays are kept up and items are put back where they belong.
  • Sale racks are neat and in size order.
  • Has an idea of who is leaving “Deadwood”.

What the heck is “Deadwood?”

Martha used to call it “Sticks”, Steve called it “Deadwood”. Both are the same thing, shoes left out on the floor and the salesperson didn’t take responsibility of it. It’s so busy sometimes its hard to keep track so as a floor watcher you have “runners” do a sweep of the floor and put the deadwood in a pile in the back. When people go to lunch they usually would have to put away 10-20 “Sticks” of deadwood as a closer.

Running the pile

Every so often a floor watcher would “catch” a guilty salesperson leaving deadwood. The punishment was to run the pile. Sometimes during a sales event there would be 100 pairs of shoes in the pile so it would take the person awhile to finish.

A good floor watcher really has to develop really strong peripheral vision to be successful. Using the “Aiphone” with a little humor helps too. I always had a good time watching the floor and I learned from some of the best. They all had their own style and techniques. It’s one of the things that sets Nordstrom apart from other retailers is this focus on customer service.

…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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