SNEWS® International Reports
Careful customer care and ongoing education of both customers and employees has allowed retailer Sport Eybl of Austria to grab more than 10 percent share of that country's sporting goods market although Eybl only has eight stores, compared to other dealers with dozens or even several hundred stores.
Sport Eybl, founded in 1931 and now also a member of the Intersportbuying group, had sales in 1999 of 2.5 Billion Austrian Shillings (183 Million Euro or approximately 167 Million US Dollars). Interesting too are figures that show Austrians spend more per person on sporting goods (199 Euros) per year than any other major European Union country. Switzerland comes in second at 105 Euros spent per person, compared to an EU average of about 80.
In fact, its CEO and chairman of the board Lutz Eybl was named on Oct. 13 as Vienna's tradesman of the year, the highest honor awarded by the Vienna Trade Commission. This award was based on Eybl's continuing commitment to training retail apprentices, establishing continuing education for its employees, and maintaining its effective relationships with customers -- all of which have created solid loyalty.
SNEWS® visited Sport Eybl's branch in Salzburg in September and spoke to its manager, Guenter Fooss, about the types of customer-loyalty programs and trainings the store provides as well as the brands it carries and its marketing and advertising endeavors:
- Customer Advantage Card -- In place for more than a decade, the "frequent buyer" card allows the store to track every person's buying habits and target advertisements to his or her needs. But it goes beyond sales. With purchases logged in the computer system, a sales clerk can help a customer who needs accessories or other equipment remember when they bought something and what brand or model it was so they can together choose the best equipment. The card also, for example, gives customers a 3-percent rebate on all purchases at the end of each year, serves as a credit card, provides a lifetime guarantee beyond the manufacturer's warranty on all products, and allows question-free exchanges.
- Guarantees -- In addition to lifetime guarantees on all products, thestore guarantees that ski, hiking, and inline footwear will fit once taken home (or they will exchange them), that all merchandise on sale will be in stock, and that they have the lowest price or the customer can bring back purchases within 10 days.
- Brands and Price -- Among hiking boots, Fooss says Lowa and Meindl are two best-sellers. He also says that although brand is important, price usually drives their sales. Other particularly successful brands, according to Eybl literature, are adidas, Burton, Fila, Puma, Arena, Technogym, Kettler, Nike, Bauer, Fischer, Genesis and Head.
- Customer Education -- Not only are there information flyers all over the store about the likes of how to care for a sleeping back, the importance of heart-rate monitoring, and what you should know about technical clothing such as socks or running gear, but the store also schedules clinics and lectures on topics such as running or backpacking.
- Employee Continuing Education and Care -- Most employees are proficient in some sports, but frequent trainings are offered to keep them up to snuff. In fact, many of the in-house customer clinics are taught by employees. And employees are kept happy with well-stocked break rooms, the ability to workout, and even an on-site pool in some stores to use during breaks.
- Service -- During the summer, the full-service shop services mostly bikes, with the Salzburg outlet servicing about 2,000 each season. Another 5,000 bikes are sold each year. In the winter, attention turns to skiing. With two stores using the shop in one Salzburg store, the service staff there manages to tend to about 7,000 pairs of skies each season.