Full Transcript of Growing Our Trade, Episode 2 with Haley Young

Growing Our Trade Ep002: Haley Young

Haley: Certain sellers that we know as soon as they walk in the door we’re like, “Oh yeah! She’s got great stuff. Great style. She totally knows what we’re looking for. She’s happy to see the friendly face when she walks in. She knows that it’s always a good experience and we want to make sure that we maintain that.”

Host: That’s Haley Young. She’s a manager of three Plato’s Closets. She was just sharing one of many examples of how they created and maintained loyal customers by leveraging ResaleAI. In this episode of Growing Our Trade, you’ll hear her best advice to dealing with common challenges like potential confrontation with shoppers whose clothes don’t get purchased, along with several other tips that continuously resonate with their customers. The Growing Our Trade podcast presented by ResaleAI features stories of the very store owners and managers who are shaping the future of Winmark franchisees.

You can hear more stories like this by visiting ResaleAI.com/podcast. Let’s begin.

You’re almost – a decade.

Haley: I know, right? I think most of my life is going to be in Plato’s Closet after a while.

Host: Does it grow on you the more you’re there? Have you found yourself enjoying it more and more? How has your journey been, just in a snapshot, before we even talk about the other stuff?

Haley: Yeah. Honestly, it’s just a really great place to work. You get the sense of family. Everyone really cares about each other. It’s not the same thing every day. We’re doing the same functions, but the customers are always different. You really get to build relationships with people and you feel just really at home. That’s why I think I’ve stuck around so long.

Host: So what is your role with the Plato’s Closet that you work at?

Haley:I started when I was 16. So I was just a stylist working after school in high school, and then I would kind of work my way up. As I got older, I was a key holder, just the cash handling, managing the other staff, and then I kind of stepped in the manager role in 2013, and so I’ve been in that position kind of from here on out, so.

Host: Wow.

Haley: Climbed the ladder slowly but surely.

Host: Well, it sounds like it’s really fit to your lifestyle and the things that you care about.

Haley: Yeah, absolutely.

Host: For someone who’s not worked at Plato’s Closet, what is that like?

Haley: Honestly, I always have the employees tell me, they’re like, “This job is so awesome. Everybody gets along.” You’re around all these unique items, and just the learning part about the different labels, what we take. It’s a really unique process. A lot of people have worked other retail jobs like GAP and Old Navy and it’s the same stuff every day. You have a floor plan that’s set out in front of you. You have to go specifically by what they send. You can’t have that individuality that you would want.

Host: So, in 2013, when you become a manager – I mean, this is a big jump. And these are three stores that you’re now responsible for. What was going through your mind?

Haley: Well, in 2013, I was just the Nashville manager at that time.

Host: Got it.

Haley: And it was really stressful because I wasn’t – I was just a key holder. And then, I moved into this manage position, and I had to go through a lot of training, but it was awesome because I really felt like I had the support. Jackson was always there to back me up, and he always had my back, always answered any questions that I had. He’s just a really great guy and super supportive. So anytime I had anything that I needed, he was always there to answer regardless what time frame, where, when.

Host: That’s awesome.

Haley: Yeah.

Host: So okay. You become a manager. When was the first moment when you’re like, “Wow. This is not easy”?

Haley: We go through telling customers bad news every day, all day.

Host: What do you mean bad news?

Haley: Bad news as in we could take X amount of items, other stuff we’re passing back home today. It’s just stuff that we don’t necessarily need for our store, and then we have to give them the examples of X, Y, and Z. So sometimes that can be confrontational. A lot of times, it’s not. They’re understanding. They understand we have a certain target market that we aim to please. We’re only going to buy stuff that’s in the demographic of what’s going to sell for our store. Also, with previous clearance cycles, we notice what sells, what doesn’t, what styles are trending. We’re going to make sure that we’re buying the appropriate stuff.

So sometimes we have those hard conversations but also ResaleAI has helped with that. Sometimes people are just looking to clean out their closet and they don’t really care what happens to it after that. So sometimes it’s a win. We’ll take a couple items. Sometimes, we won’t take anything at all, but if they could just say, “Oh, yeah. You could donate it,” and we could take care of that for them, then that’s just one less step that they have to take.

Host: That is really neat. I want to unpack that a little bit more. So one thing I want to hear about your experience of how do you say no in a way that doesn’t run someone off for life?

Haley: Well, we really have to make sure that they have a understanding of what sells well in our store and so, really just giving them all the tools that they need to understand the process. And we have buy policy sheets that we could pass out to them. Also, we have visual images of things that they could look at and kind of get an idea of what we are looking for because you could say, “Oh, yeah. We need tank tops,” but if they bring in a style that we know it’s not going to sell, it could be frustrating for the customer to not really understand why we’re turning them away whenever we ask for a specific item.

So really, just it’s all in the details. And whenever you explain their passes, just be kind. Understand that they took the time out of their day to bring in this big old bag for us to go through, and they could really respect you if you’re honest and clear. And if they don’t have any questions, then they could come in next time and get a better understanding of what we need.

Host: So it’s all about listening. It’s all about responding to them in a meaningful way. Next question. How has ResaleAI been a tool for your team?

Haley: Yes. ResaleAI has changed the game completely. It’s a lot less stress on us. With ResaleAI, we’re able to do a lot of things that we weren’t able to do before. For example, as soon as their items are completed and we’ve sorted through them, we’ve decided our takes and passes, we’re able to send them a text message. So it’s just a lot easier for customers to respond, ask questions.

Host: Versus just getting an email?

Haley: Yeah.

Host: How else would you notify them?

Haley: Well, we actually had this huge whiteboard and we had these columns and we would write their name, and then we would put the timeframe that they got there, and then we would put done. It was that old school. And we would have them actually stay in the store. So, with ResaleAI, they don’t have to stay in the store. They could leave. They don’t have to look at this old whiteboard that has all these names on them. It’s just a simple text message that we send out. It’s very easy for them to ask questions about their buy like, “Oh. Did you take anything? Oh. You didn’t take anything? You could just donate it. Is that an option?” And then, it saves them the gas of having to come back up here and everything else. So it’s really convenient.

And then also on ResaleAI, we have a checklist that we absolutely love. The accountability has completely changed in our store. It is awesome. The whole team is listed. Their shift is listed on ResaleAI as well. So we know how long we’re there, and they go through and they mark what they completed. If it’s rack maintenance, if it’s just a daily task that the manager threw on there this morning, simple things like that, but it has their little picture beside it so we totally know they did it. They could own it like, “I just sized and colorized the tank tops. They are amazing. Go check them out.” We know that they did that that week and so we can give them a shout out on the notes portion of ResaleAI and be like, “Great job.”

So it’s just encouraging. It’s taking care of accountability. It’s getting rid of whiteboards, paper, all that stuff. I mean, it’s just this great system that we use on a daily, and I honestly don’t know how we functioned without it before.

Host: What was one of the first things you noticed when you actually had this – it’s implemented. It’s set up. Your team is bought into it.

Haley: Yeah.

Host: What was something that you noticed first and maybe even surprised you?

Haley: Honestly, just organization and accountability are the two major factors, and then also customer communication was a little bit easier. If we are to tell someone that we’re passing on their items, every single piece of clothing, it’s nice for them to be able to text us why instead of us having that front on conversation because they obviously don’t want other customers to hear about why we have to pass on their items. So we could just kind of have that discreet conversation over text. Also, we could opt for them to donate it, saves them the gas of coming back up and picking us the passes and then taking it to another donation.

Host: OK

Haley: So the communication is easier for sure. Organization, just with everybody understanding what’s going on for the day. We have sales goals and trade percent, and also average transaction. Those are goals that we want to accomplish every day. It’s great for the team to come in, sign in on the computer, clock in, see those goals, see the rack maintenance, see everything that’s laid out for the day. I mean, the accountability is there, absolutely. It’s on the screen. Get this stuff done, mark it off, put your name by it. It’s just super simple. So it’s great.

It’s really awesome for managers, too. I mean, we can go back and check on the week. The days that we’re not there, were they on task? Were they doing things in a timely manner? It’s great for us to really see how the week went, understand why sales were down, and how we can make them better for the next day or week, so.

Host: Wow. With the texting part, you had a huge smile on your face when you were talking about how you can diffuse a situation before it really would be overwhelming or uncomfortable. So, what you’re saying is, instead of a customer waiting to only be told bad news in the store, now you can text him. Now, it’s not just you’re sending them one single notification text. There’s a two-way part.

Haley: Yes, absolutely.

Host: Walk me through how does a two-way texting part – how are you actually texting them? And then, we’ll talk maybe about how do you connect with a customer in that kind of format? I mean, that’s not as common, that you can actually interact with a brand or a company or a business by just texting them like a conversation.

Haley: Yeah. And it’s great. We have just the go-to text messages like it’s an all pass or we were able to take some items today, and we don’t always give the offer over the text. But if they want to understand the specifics, we can do that. But we have these general texts that we send out, all pass, able to take items today, reminding them of the trade as well. Trade is a huge thing for us. We always want our sellers to become shoppers and that’s the ideal customer. So whenever we can allow them to leave and come back – they could run their errands. They could actually take the time in the store to shop and look around. It’s great.

Also, we want to make sure all the buys are done in a timely manner. So if they’re looking around the store and we shoot them a text and let them know it’s done in 10 minutes, I mean, that’s great. They could look around and maybe do a trade right then and there. So it’s awesome because the customers just see the organization through ResaleAI. They understand that, “Oh, wow. You can just text us? That’s great.” Like, “Okay, cool. I’m going to go run to Target. I’ll be right back. Bye.” So they could still get their every day done, and we understand that it is a process to go through your clothes and it’s a chore. And to bag all that stuff up, launder it, everything else, it takes a while. So we want to make the selling process as painless as possible. If they want to shop with us, that’s great. If not, understanding, we still need their clothes to make sales.

Host: So customers are clearly seeing, wow, there’s a real impressive user experience that they have both in the store and on their cell phone whenever they’re gone.

Haley: Yeah.

Host: So how does social media integrate with social listening and maybe someone before they’re actually in the store? How is social media a tool and how does it integrate with your plan? How does it integrate with your ResaleAI use?

Haley: Absolutely. So on every Instagram post, Facebook post, Snapchat post, we always have the option, text to hold. And basically, this text message goes straight to ResaleAI. They let us know, “Oh my gosh, I love those boots. What size are they?” Normally, we have the size on there, too. But if they want to know the specifics of the item, we can let them know, let them know the price, and then they could just hold it. We’ll hold it in the black bin for them until close. They can come up here and we make a sale. Whenever they don’t, they might spend two minutes in the store at the checkout. So that’s awesome and it’s really helped us kind of show our style on social media as well, and that lets people know what they could bring in.

It also lets us make sales whenever customers are actually not in the store. So that’s a great part of it as well. And they could just text if they have questions like, “Hey, I’m going through my closet. Do you guys need shorts right now? I know it’s winter time.” “Yeah, we take all seasons all the time. It’s totally fine. Bring it on in.” So if they could ask us questions and it’s not as intimidating as that face-to-face interaction. It’s kind of more laid back and, let’s be honest, people opt to text a lot more than call these days.

Host: Right. Totally make sense, of course. Do you have any advice for other managers of Plato’s Closet of how to really have a personalized, customized – this might sound silly, but how do you text someone from a brand or from a business? What resonates the most with your customers? And what doesn’t resonate with them over text messaging?

Haley: Yeah. The best advice that I could give – ResaleAI is 100%. You can customize it for yourself. The checklist that we have for the in-store part of things, you can decide what needs to get done on certain days, the daily checklist. With the customer interaction, you could also choose how you want to text them to let them know when their items are completed. You can suggest the trade and the text message or not. It’s all up to you.

Honestly, with most of the Plato’s Closets, the way that Jackson has it set up, he’s really paid attention to other owners’ perspective and managers about how they know what works for them, and with ResaleAI, he’s constantly changing specific things in order to make it work best for everyone. We all pretty much work the same, but we all have little things that work best for us. But with the texting, it’s so much easier and the accountability. We also have the back stock option on ResaleAI, which is a complete game-changer. I started off with the back stock. It was so bad.

Host: All right. Let’s go into how bad it was.

Haley: Okay. It was so bad.

Host: I have not worked in retail like this. So really explain it.

Haley: Yeah. There’s so much to explain with Plato’s Closet. You have no idea. So the whole back stock portion, we have all of these bins full of inventory that customers have sold to us. We obviously can’t fit it all out on our floor. Also, in the winter, we’re going to need more winter stuff out, the summer will go in back stock, simple things like that. Well, whenever I first started, we had duct tape, different colored duct tape on all the bins, and in order to find the bin that you needed, you would look for the color duct tape that matched the category.

So I actually remember this. This is crazy. It was like seven years ago, but yellow was women short sleeves. So I would look for this yellow duct tape and then I would make sure that the date on it was the oldest. We want to get out the older stuff and then move on forward through there. But, yeah, I would find the duct tape and then I would get the bin that was the oldest one, pull it from the system, and it was terrible. We had no way of documenting all this like, “Oh, okay. We have eight yellow duct tape bins. That’s great. We have eight bins of short sleeves.”

And with ResaleAI we have this number system. So basically, every bin has a number and it’s this huge log that we have. We are able to put the dates, what the category is, and it’s also grouped together. So you could just see through the dropdown button, “Oh, we have eight bins of short sleeves,” or things like that. So it’s simple to know how to do a floor change as well from a manager’s stance. You could see, “Oh, I have this amount of bins to work with,” and whenever we’re restocking the floor, we kind of eyeball it like, “Oh, okay. We could put two bins on that H-rack, and we have eight of them. So we have plenty of back stock as well.” You have to always think before you act, especially with floor changes, because it’s so important that you have the right inventory on the floor.

Host: When you think back to how it was, now how it is today, what are you the happiest about?

Haley: Organization and no paper trail. We used to have this ridiculous log. It was this huge Excel sheet, and of all of the categories, the bin color, the dates. I mean, it was just ridiculous. Now, it’s just at the click of a button, like, “Oh, I need to pull women’s long sleeves. Let me go find that in the system. It’s bin 72. Okay, great. Let me go find it in the back room.” It takes like three minutes compared to just the visual of, “Oh, let me find the duct tape and let me make sure it sold this one. Okay, I’ve got to find that.” It’s so much easier.

Host: So the customer is happier. You’re able to help more customers. You’re probably able to make more money from more customers. Anything else I’m not thinking of? Your life is a whole lot better. That’s really important.

Haley: Yes. I mean, it’s great to have this tool for management because it does take a lot of work off of us. Everything is accessible to all the employees, which is great. So they could help out with back stock. They could help out with making sure that the customer’s experience was great. Customers can also leave us a review. When they sell to us, they have a simple text message that’s sent. “How was your Plato’s Closet experience today?” That’s awesome for managers. We can go and see what every customer has said about their experience. If there’s a bad experience, we’re going to know why. I know I personally call them and try to resolve the situation because we don’t want to lose a customer that’s a seller and also someone that shops with us.

So we try really hard to make sure that every experience is great because they are the ones that are creating the inventory in order for us to make sales. So we have to make sure that everything is explained properly. We have to make sure that their experience was great. Customer service is huge for us. I mean, compared to other retail stores that I personally shop at, that’s outside of Plato’s Closet, I think that our customer service is by far above and beyond, but I’m biased.

Host: Well, earlier, you were talking about how it’s like a family.

Haley: Yeah. I mean, it’s totally like a family unit and with ResaleAI, it’s really just helped everybody stay on the same page. Everyone knows what is expected of them whenever they come in. They know the sales goal. We’re all working as a team, as a unit, in order to – we call them “Green Days.” So every day that we make sales goal, we make trade percentage, we hit average, that’s a “Green Day”.

And so the more green days that we have, we could be rewarded with Plato’s bucks, which is this awesome thing that Jackson came up with. Every day that we make goal or we hit trade percentage, we get $2 to the store. So, I mean, normally, our employees are working anywhere from three to five days a week, and it adds up quickly and free clothes for young adults. Are you kidding? That’s like a gold mine. We’re so excited about that.

Host: Yeah. I bet.

Haley: Yeah.

Host: And you were saying earlier when you’re able to actually text someone or  – actually, you were saying you would call them if they did not have a great experience because you want to extend their history or their future, I should say.

Haley: Yeah.

Host: You want to extend their future, but something else that you can see in ResaleAI is that customer’s history, how long they’ve been there, what they’ve done. How helpful is that for you?

Haley: Oh, it’s great. We have certain sellers that we know as soon as they walk in the door, we’re like, “Oh yeah, she’s got great stuff, great style. She totally knows what we’re looking for. We always end up taking.”

Host: And she knows that you know that about her. That probably makes her feel great.

Haley: Oh, it makes her feel awesome. So she’s happy to see the friendly face when she walks in. She knows that it’s always a good experience, and we want to make sure that we maintain that. So we could look at her buy history and be like, “Wow, she sold five times this year. Each time it’s been over $60. This is great. This is the seller that we want to always come in, especially when we’re needing stuff.”

Back to school is the biggest time for Plato’s Closet. We have to have the inventory on hand in order to really peak our sales. We have to make sure we have great stuff because a lot of parents and students come in to shop with us. It’s an important month or months, I should say. But it’s great that we could look in ResaleAI, see the buys that are bigger buys, and really appreciate those customers, let them know that we appreciate their time to clean out their closet for them to come in and see us and help us out and we help them out. I mean, cash on the spot? You can’t beat it.

Host: That’s great. Haley, you are amazing.

Haley: Thank you. You’re so sweet.

Host: I can tell you really love what you do and it’s so neat that you started when you were 16 years old and you’ve worked your way up and you were explaining how you’ve gone from working part time, you’re in high school and then you become a key holder, then you start managing the money. And then next thing you know, now, several years later, you’ve worked your way up. Now you’re managing three different locations and you’re great at what you do.

So I just really appreciate you sharing your insight in how to communicate with your customers both with the texting part, the in-store interaction, the out-of-store interaction, and also some of the differences that you’ve seen firsthand from using ResaleAI as a tool. So I just want to say thanks. I really appreciate you. Anything else on your heart that you want to share, final words?

Haley: Final words. If you haven’t experienced or looked at ResaleAI, I suggest to do it. It makes your life easier as a manager for sure. And the accountability and organization is the best part about it. And the customers, I mean, they feel like, “Oh wow, I got a text message from Plato’s asking me to come back in and sell,” or, “Wow, they actually care about my experience. I just left.” It makes them really feel like you care about them and we want that relationship. I mean, that’s something that brings the customer back and that’s the most important thing is creating repeat customers, so.

Host: Excellent. Thank you so much.

Haley: Yeah, thanks.

Host:Thanks for joining us on this episode of the Growing Our Trade podcast presented by ResaleAI. For more stories like this and to learn how other Winmark franchisees have loved being a store owner again, visit resaleai.com. Thanks.