When we started our Superstars behind the Counter feature four years ago, our intention was to appreciate the best salespeople in our industry. As we all know, our retail salespeople are a special breed. They are that fine combination of creative, personable, dedicated, enthusiastic as well as, most impressively, photography experts who have to keep a smile on with every encounter they have in our stores. They are the real superstars of our industry.
This year, when I sent my usual e-mail out to retailers and manufacturers, asking them for nominations, I almost immediately received the following e-mail from B&C Camera’s Joe Dumic:
“The superstars behind the counter are in my opinion all salespeople in every camera store in the U.S. They are the frontline workers of the photo industry. They work every day for eight hours with a face mask on, helping customers and keeping the whole photo industry afloat. These salespeople are all the heroes for me.”
In this column, I often talk about business strategies that are successful in other industries which might translate to the imaging industry. Our industry has been challenged by competing technologies that have moved in on our “turf.” We used to own photography, and photo printing, and photo accessories. Now, we have to fight for every sale; our competition is not only other retailers in our neighborhoods but also online retailers who are thousands of miles away.
In fact, the only thing that separates us from being swallowed up by Amazon or other pure online retailers are the folks behind the counter. They represent your store with their friendly faces, their creative responses and their abilities to close the sale.
The Real Superstars
What’s more, this year we also called upon them to go above and beyond when retail stores had to change their usual routines; they had to figure out not only how to sell merchandise but also how to protect themselves and their customers. Masks, sanitizers as well as plexiglass were the hard costs of doing business. But what about the human costs behind the counter?
We asked our employees to literally risk their lives to help keep us in business. Was that a fair thing to ask? Probably not. But how many of them refused that request? How many of them decided to stay home and collect unemployment checks and wait for the environment to welcome them back? I don’t have a hard number; however, I can just assume that most of them became the soldiers of our industry and kept the doors open.
Why do I bring all of this up? Because we need to acknowledge the contributions our own “frontline” workers made to our industry. We should never take them for granted; if possible, we should reward them as best we can for being there for us when we needed them most.
They were probably scared to death to walk through the doors every day; however, they did it with a smile behind their masks. Moreover, we have never had to ask them to make more of a sacrifice than we did over the last year.
So thank you, Joe, for pointing out something that maybe wasn’t so obvious. Unfortunately, we only had room in this magazine to showcase 10 superstars; however, if we could, we would salute every one of the salespeople who were there when we needed them.
What’s more, let’s make sure we never forget our industry is built on the backs of those behind the counter. They are, after all, the real heroes of our industry.