Bivouac Outdoor provides premium clothing and equipment from the world’s best brands for camping, climbing, fitness, hiking, snow sports and travel.
They enable their customers to have a lifetime of safe, comfortable and inspiring outdoor adventures in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas, through their ten stores around the country.
When Graeme Allen joined Bivouac in 2017, he knew he had his own mountain to climb. His experience in the Outdoor Equipment Industry was comprehensive enough to know he was in a very competitive market. His goal was to take Bivouac to the next level, to go from good to great. Well aware he had a good team, he quickly identified that his people were Bivouac’s biggest asset and his shortcut to the mountain top. He had to polish the rough diamond that was his team to drive the results the company needed.
Sales training was the obvious solution to upskilling Graeme’s team and finding a training program was not going to be hard. But finding one that provided the right balance of relevant/targeted content and applied coaching strategies for his team was a completely different ball game. And that was just half the challenge!
Introducing a new workload to his already busy team was not going to be an easy task, so the training program had to be flexible enough to fit within the stores’ tight operational schedule. In essence, Graeme knew that managing change and transforming his team from good to great, were not going to be easy tasks.
And that’s when Graeme engaged RedSeed back in 2018. He believed RedSeed would provide Bivouac the tools and strategies to enable a successful implementation of a world class Sales Training Program. Upskilling his team would give Bivouac that competitive edge he was looking for, but little did he know he would get much more than that.In early 2018 Bivouac decided to join forces with RedSeed. Wayne Martin, the company owner, and the Executive Team were all behind the initiative. The decision was to implement RedSeed’s Retail Sales Training Program. As part of RedSeed’s Roadmap to Success, the program would be rolled out to the Store Managers first. But how would the Store Managers react to an increase in their workload?
“We wanted the team at the stores to take it and run with it hard. For me, it was a no-brainer to invest in our teams. I knew how it would transform our business and our customer experience for the better.”
In March that year, they held Bivouac’s Managers Conference, the perfect opportunity to introduce the new program and set the priorities for the year. At RedSeed, we know how important their role is. Getting the Store Managers buy-in is crucial to successfully implement the program in the stores. They are the ones to drive the program to completion with their teams in the stores. Their ability to coach and take their teams through this journey will determine the quality of the results. We know that when it’s done well, results follow.
And the team didn’t disappoint. “The buy-in from the Store Managers was 100%. They saw it as a great opportunity, something super valuable and exactly what they’d been looking for.”
Not only were they all-in, but they also put RedSeed as the #1 priority in their BIG 5, our 5 key targets for the year. They made it a priority to upskill the teams.
"I was keen for it to be in our BIG 5, but I never imagined that it would be #1.”
Excited about the training they were undertaking, the skills they were learning and the strategies they started implementing, the teams were ready for the next phase. In July 2018, RedSeed’s Sales Training Program was rolled out to all the stores in the country.
They wanted to send a clear message to their teams: “We did a launch party in every store, we made a big song and dance about it. It had to be special, so we organised it in the evening and it had to be fancy! The message to the team was that we’re backing this up 100%. This is very important to the company and, most importantly, we value you and we’re investing in you”.
“I would have loved to be in every store, but in hindsight, it was good that I wasn’t. It was grown and backed by the Store Manager. They backed it, they ran it and they were the most professional meetings we’ve had in store”.
The broader launch was a great success. “Change is always difficult. We knew that managing that change and introducing extra workload for our team were our biggest challenges. However, we followed the RedSeed Roadmap to launch the programme and it made a big difference. We spun it in our own way and the team easily connected with it. It made it so much easier because, when the team had a tough question, RedSeed provided the tools and strategies to answer it. That conversation, wasn’t a tough conversation anymore”.
But as excited as the team was, that was just the first challenge they had to overcome. The biggest hurdle was still lying ahead.
Fast forward 3 months and Bivouac is already capitalising on the training and seeing great results. “We were seeing a change in store metrics around conversion rates and basket size. Every store increased, some more noticeably than others, but every store had an increase compared to the same time the previous year”.
The team was feeling more confident on the floor and the results were speaking for themselves. The investment Bivouac had made in their team’s development was starting to pay off.
And then Christmas hit. The crazy busy season started and it’s only natural for training to slow down during this period. The focus shifted to maximise one of the most profitable times of the year. “It was a challenging Christmas, but I firmly believe that it would have been much more challenging had we not taken the team through RedSeed’s Selling Program”.
With January just around the corner (the 3rd most profitable month of the year), Bivouac was hoping to recover from a challenging Christmas.
Into the new year, things weren’t improving very much and they were not getting back to pre-Christmas sales metrics. When you lift the foot off the accelerator, it can be hard to get back on track and regain momentum. Routines had changed, the coaching rhythm had slowed down and people were reverting back to old behaviours with customers. The situation was becoming more challenging as time went by.
Bivouac’s ascent to the top had come to a halt. They had invested in their people, provided them with tools and strategies that had started to work. However, when training stopped, the old habits crept back in. Was it just a coincidence? Some tough decisions had to be made, and fast.
Keeping up the momentum
Graeme decided to take the opportunity and re-launch RedSeed internally at the Managers’ Conference in March 2019. The aim was to get everyone re-energised and remind them of the benefits the training provided and the success the team had achieved.
To reset the team, Bivouac needed a face-to-face session to check and balance. It was a chance to analyse what worked and what needed to be improved. With that in mind, the team at RedSeed attended the Managers’ Conference and delivered a Drive Session. The goal of the session was to celebrate the wins achieved, solve common problems identified within the Leadership Team, in order to increase confidence around coaching techniques and provide a new set of tools to drive change.
We had people in our team who were ambivalent about Bivouac in general, but now, after completing the Selling Programs they have the best average sales in the company and best basket size. They are incredibly engaged in the training and now have become master salespeople”.
"From those who are diving deep into the RedSeed Program, we’re seeing amazing results."
Bivouac is back on track and stronger than ever. The biggest learning is not only setting the right priorities, but also putting effective strategies in place that will support them. After the Drive Session, they have put several effective initiatives in place to ensure the great work is not undone. Without a doubt, that is already making a huge difference for Bivouac.
“Every week we have a conference call where every Store Manager is online. Number one on our agenda is Health and Safety, their physical and mental wellbeing is the most important thing to us. Second on the agenda is RedSeed because our team’s development is a priority”.
RedSeed has changed the tone of the conversations Bivouac is having around engagement, performance and results. It’s possible because it has given them permission to draw a line in the sand, set the standards of knowledge and performance, as well as challenge each other in a constructive manner when someone deviates from the path.
Bivouac has invested in their team’s professional and personal development. That sends a very clear message to them: we value you. “We invest in our team’s development because we believe they are the biggest asset Bivouac has. If people need to take time off work to complete the training, we also pay for this time.”
But what are the results of Bivouac’s investment so far?
- 15% increase in conversion rates for those with high training completion rates.
- High engagement rates linked to high training completion rates.
- Consistency in the customer experience across their stores.
- Increased levels of confidence across all teams.
- The ability to effectively measure KPIs and address performance in a non-confrontational way.
Customers are the heart of their business. Their experiences, achievements and passion for the outdoors make Bivouac who they are today. You can definitely feel it when you enter any of their eleven stores around the country, and we especially felt it when we spoke with Graeme.
Bivouac has seen a positive shift in their culture. Their team is more engaged than ever, performing better than ever and driving consistent results. RedSeed has been the catalyst for this change by providing the tools and strategies they needed to take their business from good to great. However, you can have the best tool in the market and your inability to use it properly can ruin your chances of success. This is where Bivouac’s ability to pivot combined with the passion to grow their people is setting them apart. The results are already there, and they speak for themselves.