I have been watching commercials for The Men’s Wearhouse for years and when I grew up I thought that was the place to buy suits. Geez, the founder and chairman George Zimmer guarantees it so they have to be the best. I have since grown up and I own 12 suits and I did not buy any of them at The Men’s Wearhouse. I have been there a handful of times and I have never bought anything. I have rented 2 tuxedos for weddings and that is it. For me, the suits are too expensive and ugly. The service I had when I went there was nothing spectacular and it took a long time. I really do not think I will ever go back unless I have to rent another tuxedo for a wedding, maybe I will just buy one instead it will be cheaper.
I read a Stanford Case Study entitled “The Men’s Wearhouse: Success in a Declining Industry” and I guess I am wrong, The Men’s Wearhouse is great and they have been doing great for years (the case was written in 1997, so up until 1997). From 1991-1996 they have stolen customers from men’s retailers across the country. They went from 113 stores in 1991 to 345 in 1996. They went from $133.4 to $483.5 million in net sales. I think those numbers are great, but what really caught my eye was their assets and their sales per square foot. Assets went from $54.7 to $295.5 million and their sales per square foot went from $375 to $420. The assets mean they have great foundation and they are strong, and the sale per square foot means they are learning and implementing productive sales techniques. They train a lot more than I would ever expect and want.
They have training seminars entitled Suit High, Suit University, Suit blah blah blah… They seem to be effective because of the sales per square foot shows it. They train regionally and at their headquarters in Fremont, CA. The training is long and intensive. At first glance it sounds great. It sounds like a time share sales event where you get free skiing and dinner, but they stuff you in an conference for 8 hours instead. The Men’s Wearhouse says it is a great time because they will pay you to go to San Francisco and Pajoro Dunes for food, drinks and professional sports, but reality sets in and you have about 30 hours of training in 4 days.
The next thing I would like to talk about is the evaluations. When they started to talk about the evaluations I immediately put it down, but then I looked at it and there are good things in it. I like the employee sales section of the evaluation where they tell you how much the store sells and give you a value. The good thing is that the employee knows where he stands and he can get help if he needs it. The bad thing, for the employee, is they are ranked and they now have documentation of poor performance and you can get fired.
The last thing I would like to talk about is the servant leader. George Zimmer says that is one of their greatest qualities and why they are so successful. George Zimmer puts his employees first, customers second, suppliers third and shareholders last. At The Men’s Wearhouse, the servant leader is there to support and mentor the employee. The only difference between the two is pay and title. If the employee has a problem they ask and they get help. I believe they truly help each other out and if you do not help or if you steal customers from another employee, they will fire you. The other good thing is the regional and district managers always stop by to help. The employees are not scared of them because their goal is not to criticize or punish.
You know what? One more thing. When the author described the hierarchy I thought it was bullshit. He says employees were first, but I don’t believe it. I think the shareholder is #1. The way it was described I did not buy it. Johnson & Johnson believed their customers were first and acted accordingly and they told the shareholders if the customers are happy you will get yours. The Men’s Wearhouse says they will get theirs because the employees treat the customers great and they buy from the suppliers at a discount. The other thing is George Zimmer is paying himself less to make the shareholders happy. The Men’s Wearhouse in conclusion is a great retailer to shop at and work for, but I am sorry I will probably never go there again.