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Hug Your Customer


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If you work at a Fortune 500 company and live in southern Connecticut or New York's Westchester County (two of Manhattan's most affluent suburbs), chances are you buy your suits at Mitchells (in Westport, Conn.) or Richards (in Greenwich, Conn.). These two independent clothing stores are some of the most successful in the business and outfit CEOs from Chase, GE, IBM, Merrill Lynch and Pepsi. Mitchell, whose father started the business, shares the secret of his success in this unoriginal but cheerful guide to keeping customers happy. Hugging your customers, he says, has nothing to do with being touchy-feely around them and everything to do with offering them over-the-top service. For Mitchell, that means literally offering a customer the coat off your back, if that's the only one left in the store in the customer's size and preferred style and color. It means going to customers' homes to tie their bow ties for big events. It means serving coffee and bagels in the store and giving away hot dogs in the parking lot on summer Saturdays. Some might view this as fawning, but for Mitchell, it's the best way to keep customers coming back. His advice-know your customer, think outside the box, have a "no problem" attitude-is hardly groundbreaking. But those who work with customers daily have much to gain from this chipper, inspiring handbook. Agent, Jacques de Spoelberch. (June) Forecast: Blurbs from media and business high rollers, including Today cohost Matt Lauer, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt and Merrill Lynch CEO David Komansky, will increase awareness, as will ads in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

The CEO of Mitchells/Richards, two of the country's most successful independent clothing stores, here outlines his innovative and successful approach to merchandising and management: hugging, a mind-set that personalizes and saturates every aspect of one's business. Mitchell divides his text into eight sections of four to 11 chapters and concludes each section with a "Hugging Study Guide" that summarizes the highlights one should remember and put into practice. Among these are how to attract and keep great staff, lower marketing costs, maintain higher gross margins and long-term revenues, and adapt Mitchell's ideas to any business. Readers will enjoy Mitchell's numerous anecdotes, and the personable, down-to-earth style allows readers to absorb new ideas easily.-Susan C. Awe, Univ. of New Mexico Lib., Albuquerque Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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