PORTRAITS BY J. Alan Paul Photography and photos courtesy of SCHEELS
SPECIAL THANKS TO Shaun Harrison, Kara Jeffers & Hillary Ehlen
Four SCHEELS team members give their take on what makes the 115-year-old sporting-goods giant such a special place to shop and work.
“You have to have a sound business model, great customer service and stand behind what you sell or offer . .. Then, you perfect the most minute of details.”
Q: Taking pride in your job isn’t just about doing the “big” things. In fact, it’s probably more about the little things. What are some lesser-seen aspects of your role that you take pride in doing every day?
A: I really take pride in connecting with our crew on a daily basis. A simple smile and “hello” every day goes a long way. And it’s not always about their shop and area or personal sales. It’s about genuinely building relationships with them over the long run.
Q: What does it mean to work for a company that helps its customers take pride in themselves and their chosen pursuit(s)?
A: It means looking within the pursuit. How will my recommendations elevate their experience? I take great pride in sharing my adventures with our customers in order to help them enhance theirs while providing the appropriate gear for all levels of their sport.
Q: From the dress code to floor displays to the restrooms, anyone who’s ever been to a SCHEELS store knows the amount of pride the company takes in appearances. What role do appearances play in operating a successful business?
A: Appearance sets the tone for the entire experience and assists in the longevity of a business. It’s only the beginning, however. From there, you have to have a sound business model, great customer service and stand behind what you sell or offer if you want to be successful. Then, you perfect the most minute of details.
Q: How does being an employee-owner affect how you approach your job?
A: It affects how I approach all aspects of my position because I’m vested, I have a stake in our company and I’m fully committed. SCHEELS has invested in my growth and development, and so I feel a drive to give back to SCHEELS. I wear my name tag with pride every single day.
Q: What are you most proud of as a SCHEELS employee?
A: The fact that the company I work for is a proud member of so many great communities and is held to such a high standard. We give back. We’re involved. We take care of our customers. We are “the” place to shop. We have a Ferris wheel. We have great products and brands. We are conservative. We are unique. We smile. We work hard. We learn from mistakes. We have fun. I get to be a part of “we.” We are SCHEELS!
“The customer becomes a part of the SCHEELS family.”
Q: Why is the word “passion” featured so prominently in SCHEELS branding?
A: We at SCHEELS are very passionate about the sports and activities we like to participate in. We want the customer to be able to have that passion and enjoyment with the product and make their experience with the product the best it can be.
Q: Why is it important that customers interact with department experts who are as passionate as they are?
A: When a customer interacts with an expert who is as passionate as they are, they can really relate to each other when picking out the product—making it a fun experience for both.
Q: As retail continues its shift toward e-commerce and less face-to-face “coaching” takes place, how do you keep passion a part of the customer experience in-store?
A: You treat each customer better than you want to be treated. We make the customer’s experience more enjoyable and give them expert advice to enjoy their sport.
The customer becomes a part of the SCHEELS family and wants to purchase at the store instead of online.
Q: What’s the most satisfying part of helping a customer discover or pursue their passion?
A: The most satisfying part is seeing the joy a customer gets when they get the product they need or want to continue the passion of playing their favorite activity. Then, returning to the store to let me know how much fun they had and putting smiles on kids’ faces.
“We build friendships and can all learn something from each other.”
Q: Is there one personality trait that every SCHEELS employee shares? What is it?
A: There are many personalities that make up the faces of SCHEELS, but many associates have a friendly and competitive nature. Many are goal-oriented in their personal and professional lives, which helps SCHEELS in its strides to be better at what we do as company.
Q: What’s the significance of doing something as simple as greeting a customer when they walk into the store or saying “thank you” after completing a transaction?
A: Greeting someone is a common courtesy and a show of respect. SCHEELS would not be here if we didn’t have customers, and we like to show our gratitude and appreciation by greeting our customers and thanking them for coming into our stores.
Q: Why does SCHEELS encourage their team members’ individual personalities to shine through when interacting with customers?
A: Many of our associates truly love to participate in and talk about the sports and activities we sell equipment and clothing for. It’s fun talking with customers who share the same passions or who are thinking about getting involved in a sport or activity. We build friendships and can all learn something from each other.
“Until you are fully immersed in the culture of SCHEELS, it would be hard, if not impossible, to describe that standard to someone outside the organization.”
Q: Do you feel a sense of pressure (in a good way) to not only perform for yourself but for the company?
A: I feel a sense of pride more than pressure to perform at a high level both for myself and the company. There is a deep satisfaction that comes from the achievements of the associates whom I get to work with closely at SCHEELS.
Q: What does it mean to know you’re representing the SCHEELS brand?
A: Representing the SCHEELS brand is a huge responsibility. The brand encompasses what our customers have come to expect in terms of service and selection. Representing the SCHEELS brand is a promise to our customers that they will get consistency in our stores as we strive to make their experience memorable.
Q: Anyone can perform occasionally. As a SCHEELS team member, why is it important for you to perform day in and day out?
A: Taking the time to prepare a daily routine is key. Preparation and routine create the performance roadmap for the team to succeed. When we take that roadmap, new benchmarks can be set and achieved. Author John C. Maxwell said it best about performance, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”
Q: SCHEELS team members are held to the highest of standards. How would you describe that standard to someone outside the organization?
A: Until you are fully immersed in the culture of SCHEELS, it would be hard, if not impossible, to describe that standard to someone outside the organization.
Q: Why is it important that customers associate the SCHEELS name with improving their own performance?
A: When you walk into a SCHEELS store, you’re walking into a store filled with associates who participate and aspire to evolve in the same sports and passions that inspire you. Every day, I’m surrounded by amazing associates who inspire me and who bring the best out of me. SCHEELS is a community helping to bring the best out of our customers, offering value and connection beyond mere products in this digital age.