PROFILE

Art Suriano

Chief Executive Officer, The TSi Company
Art Suriano is a business development executive with expertise in retail sales consulting, business culture analysis, and process improvements. He is a forward-thinking business intelligence leader who knows what it takes to run a business and make it a success. Suriano has had an extremely successful and multi-faceted career path that has been anything but conventional. Suriano’s career has provided him skills as CEO, VP of Sales & Marketing, Patent Owner, Published Author, Award-Winning Composer/Arranger, and Public Speaker.

Suriano’s talent includes a keen eye for mining, analyzing, compiling, and presenting data that consistently boosts company value. His patented methodology known as LTraining® has put numerous businesses back on track fixing disconnect, improving performance, consistency, sales culture, sales, and customer satisfaction.

In addition, Suriano is the author of “The Ultimate Customer Experience...The Path to Victory for Any Business...Any Size...Any Time.” His leadership style is extremely creative, energetic, motivational, customer-focused, collaborative and ambitious.

Suriano began his career accepting work as a freelance composer. Soon he was scoring original compositions for television and radio for such programs as As The World Turns and Another World, and jingles/soundtracks for companies such as Subaru, Ford and more. From his success working for media directly as well as advertising agencies, Suriano soon figured out he could offer clients better and more effective creative campaigns for less than what they were paying. This led to founding his own company, PMI in the late 1980’s, which in time, became a full- service ad agency billing over $5 million annually, with local and regional clients.

From the success of his winning agency formula, a few years later, Suriano was offered an opportunity to offer his talent directly to broadcast companies such as WABC in New York and Kiss 108 in Boston. His assignment was helping underperforming clients get better results. Suriano would write and produce a new ad campaign that included custom commercials, and oftentimes, a custom jingle. It was during this period that his peers and clients coined him, “Mr. Fix It,” as every client he was handed began to see improvements in advertising results within 30 days.

Suriano’s passion for advertising continued, but as deregulation affected broadcast media and how they operated, he felt the need to move on and in 1994, founded the company he has today, The TSi Company. Starting out as an in-store marketing/advertising program for retailers, Suriano created an exciting program known as RadioPlusTM. Simply a better in-store music program, RadioPlusTM provided retailers with in-store commercials, complete with a custom client jingle, stations calls and personalities, making their in-store sound system appear as if it was the company’s own radio station. Soon, The TSi Company was signing local and regional retail clients who liked the idea of the added opportunities to build sales with customers through Suriano’s effective commercials and concepts.

By 1997, Suriano’s creative reputation was growing and clients were asking for his help in what was becoming a strong need: training. He began by creating and producing an in-store “before and after” hour radio program that quickly helped store associates learn about upcoming events, in-store promotions, customer service, and policies and procedures. Starting with Stern’s Department Stores, he was soon asked to expand the product to Macy’s, and other divisions after such as May Company divisions and other retail chains. Next, he turned his attention to part-time employees and created what eventually became his patented training method, LTraining®.

Today, LTraining® has been used by over 4 million trainees and consistently outperforms any other training method, scoring over 90% retention after a single session. LTraining® sessions have been created for every training topic necessary from orientation, POS and systems training, product training, sales training, customer service, and more.

As time progressed and Suriano recognized the strong results his training method was achieving, he realized that in order to get maximum impact for any business, he had to take it one step further. He began to look at the other areas of a business that, regardless of how effective his training was, would prevent a business from reaching its full potential.

Suriano met and spoke with clients and requested the opportunity to perform assessments, asking the right questions from top executives to the field and then comparing answers. Soon he found that every business was experiencing serious disconnect from the vision and objectives of the senior staff and what was actually taking place with lower level employees, especially the employees dealing with the customers. Soon he created his TSi 360TM, which became the footprint for helping clients increase sales, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction. Clients experienced over 15% increases in comparable store sales, saved millions of dollars that were being wasted, and saw increases in conversion of 7% annually. Moreover, clients saw long term growth quarter after quarter due to the improvements in performance and consistency.

Today, Suriano enjoys his role as Chief Executive Officer of The TSi Company which has expanded into a full-service company providing branding/marketing, training, communication skills and technology. He also provides his expertise as a consultant, teaching companies what they need to know to grow their business.

As the author of “The Ultimate Customer Experience”, Suriano follows the principles in his book that help clients achieve their goals. Furthermore, as a public speaker, Suriano has been asked to speak at various functions and events all over the world including the Intercoifure International event held in Australia.

Suriano is an accomplished composer/musician who won numerous awards through the decades for original scores for radio/television and corporate presentations. Today, he is under contract with two record labels in the UK as the songwriter/arranger for Circle of Faith, an up and coming Christian pop band.
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  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Are some retailer CEOs too old to learn new tricks?

    There are many reasons why retailers have been slow to react to changes shaping the marketplace over the last 10 to 20 years. One of them is the change itself. Looking back 20+ years ago, Kohl’s was a new concept. Today it’s Amazon. That’s a huge difference. So retailers reacted first in their comfort zone, which was competing with other stores. But then came the Internet. No one at first knew what that would mean and how that would change not only how we shop but how we live our lives. Over the last 10 to 20 years, we saw many changes in our economy, changes in lifestyles and the drastic shopping pattern differences we have seen with Millennials. Lastly many retailers took on too much debt, especially those purchased by private equity firms, so the only investment they could make was to continue to open new stores because, up until recently, it was the one guaranteed method to increase sales.I think we need a little time for the retail industry to catch its breath, with each retailer taking a good hard look at themselves -- evaluating their product, consumer demand, customer service, omnichannel experience, etc. and focusing on what they need to improve one step at a time. Going ahead 10 to 20 years, we are going to see the blend of today’s newest retailers like Amazon with the surviving older retailers creating shopping experiences we can’t yet even imagine.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Is a self-service model Macy’s ticket to success?

    In many ways I think Macy’s has lost their vision of who they are and who they wish to be. Macy's was once the department store leader but has now become the department store chaser. Are they Kohl’s? Are they J.C. Penney? Are they something else?There are many self-service stores and I don’t think Macy’s is wise to become one. They may see some short-term success of self-service shoes but is it because there are no associates involved or is it the product mix they now have? The whole point of going to a store is to see, feel and touch the product and when needed get assistance. The more we take away the “service” piece, the more we’ll find reasons not to shop at department stores. Maybe if the top executives focused less on their high salaries and bonuses and focused more on renovating their old stores and adding well-trained associates, Macy’s would see a stronger increase in sales across the board and they wouldn’t be looking at self-service departments.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    What does it take to thrive in an over-stored marketplace?

    I agree with Mark’s points, all well stated. Too many retailers today are addicted to opening stores despite all the store closures. Years ago most retailers opened stores because they were doing well and saw the potential to increase their market. Today I am appalled at the short-sightedness of many retail executives who despite their poor store performance and sales insist on opening more stores. These chains are destined to fail.Technology has and will continue to change everything. I agree that the stores of the future will be smaller and I also see home delivery getting so fast that there will be less need to purchase an item in-store because once it is purchased it will be there waiting for the customer by the time they get home. So retailers today should be thinking hard before they just open stores.Retail CEOs need to take a good hard look at their company and if it is successful then they should open stores that match today’s consumer demands. If not they should focus on the problems first, like improving customer service and creating a stronger omnichannel experience. Only after they begin seeing positive results should they consider expanding.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    Will Amazon’s use of data transform how retailers operate stores?

    Amazon’s physical stores have many opportunities for them to succeed. For one thing, customer curiosity will drive traffic into their stores. However the other advantage they have is that by opening new stores today it allows Amazon to start out with modern technology and great opportunities for the curious shopper.I love the convenience of looking at a book, knowing its rating and finding other books that match my interests. Reviewing their store photos, it looks like Amazon has taken the best of the traditional bookstore and incorporated their new and innovative concepts. So for the many millions of us who enjoy reading whether it be on a tablet or a hardcover book Amazon will attract the curious and, if the experience is as enjoyable as it sounds, I am confident they will be successful.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2017

    Can offline word-of-mouth be used to drive business results?

    Today over 92 percent of consumers research online before deciding where to shop. Social media is high and is growing with many sites for customers and employees to post their comments about a retailer they have shopped or for whom they work. For many retailers, the negative comments take away from the positive experiences they are providing.I think retailers need to take social media a lot more seriously than many do. Word of mouth has and always will be the best advertising, and it’s free. So to expand that, start in the store and focus heavily on “wowing” the customers, which will lead to many WOM experiences. The simplest thing that comes to mind to facilitate WOM opportunities that cross over both offline and online would be creating a contest for customers to share their experiences. The best of the best could be posted online as testimonials as well as with in-store signage and included with the in-store messaging. Customers participating will enjoy sharing their experiences. The contest could be simple offering nothing more than recognition. Making customers feel appreciated goes a long way in “wowing” customers and giving them a reason to spread the word about the retailer they like.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2017

    Will J.C. Penney find success with its new B2B venture?

    This venture is a smart move for J.C. Penney. It will provide additional revenue and help their brand with more exposure. It also lends itself to marketing opportunities with the hotels and their guests should J.C. Penny wish to pursue that option. Today, so much competition comes from companies who have expanded into other industries' space. So this is just another expansion, with J.C. Penney now getting into the hospitality space, but I see many benefits for J.C. Penney and this should prove to be successful.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    How should self-checkout be incentivized?

    There is no doubt that self-checkout provides one key benefit: convenience. There is nothing more infuriating than having an item or two and lines at the register that are four or more deep with customers holding several items each. However, too many retailers don’t realize the disadvantages their self-checkout causes to their business.The most common disadvantages are glitches when an item will not scan or when the customer has a coupon for the purchase but the self-checkout can’t scan it. Often self-checkouts, depending on the store, are understaffed with only one associate there to assist customers when several self-checkouts are being used simultaneously so when one customer has a problem, anyone else with an issue must wait. That said, if retailers looked at the self-checkout opportunities carefully they should see that many customers enjoy using them because they can be fun and most importantly provide speed to get out of the store. So make sure your scanners are working properly, staff the area with enough associates to help customers with issues and ensure that the associates are friendly and making the customers feel welcome, thank them for shopping and invite them back. The little human touches will go a long way in making the customer feel appreciated and perfectly content using self-checkouts.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    Will pop-up only malls catch on?

    I feel that this is an excellent concept with great potential. One key benefit of pop-ups has always been the short-term lease, allowing a company to test something before making a long-term commitment. Often the deals are attractive and that helps start-ups or new ventures get a chance to see if they have something that will be successful or not. For the mall, pop-ups fill an otherwise vacant space. Pop-ups can make shopping malls more appealing when the pop-ups are pushcart businesses attracting customers as they walk through the mall. So will it be successful? The answer is yes, provided there is good marketing and participants are screened carefully to make sure their concept is sound and fits in, whether it is Cass Collective or another space doing something similar. The biggest benefit is to the consumer. One of the most significant advantages of brick-and-mortar is being able to browse. Shoppers love seeing and experiencing new concepts, stores, merchandise and buying opportunities. Many of these pop-ups may find a great future with traditional brick-and-mortar locations and, for those that do not, they will find out quickly and for a much smaller investment than the cost of long-term leases.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Walmart on track to offer customers a seamless shopping experience?

    I commend Walmart for their strategy, which is working. A 1.4 percent increase in comp store sales isn’t huge, but for a company their size it is significant. What’s important is that Walmart recognizes that there are shoppers who are mostly interested in shopping online as well as a very high percent of customers who prefer shopping in-store. All retailers need to appeal to both and Walmart is doing an excellent job of that. Allowing customers to pick up online purchases at the store and giving them a discount is very smart because it gets them into the store, which is where impulse buying takes place. Walmart has proven they are not afraid to take some risks and, so far, the results have been positive.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Dick’s Sporting Goods smart to wait on more retail failures before opening new stores?

    I feel this is an incredibly wise move. Today, we have too many stores and many retailers are reducing store count as well as their store size or going out of business. Yes, lease prices may come down, but more importantly I think smart retailers should take a breath and slow their expansions down.Target has already committed serious dollars to renovating existing stores, which is something I feel more retailers should be doing. E-commerce will continue to grow and e-commerce companies are also going into brick-and-mortar. So, Dick's strategy is intelligent and will let them ride out this challenging time of asking who will still be in business, who is closing many stores, what companies are merging, what company is going through an acquisition and what e-commerce company is now opening stores.Once all the dust settles over the next few years there will be opportunities for growth and opening more stores, if it is the right move for them.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2017

    Is the $400B prescription drug business ripe for an Amazon disruption?

    If done correctly this could be a huge market for Amazon. I think we’re at the point at least for now at which there is nothing Amazon can’t do and succeed with, so prescription drugs could be another winner. The advantages would be for the consumer who does not have a prescription plan. It is very unfair what pharmaceutical companies charge for the drugs patients need, and I’m sure Amazon would have no problem finding customers. However, Amazon's bigger issues will be dealing with all the federal laws regarding health and drug requirements. It can be a nightmare. I have worked with pharmacies in the past, and the regulations and compliances are very involved. But if done right and done well, I think Amazon would find themselves once again building another strong market.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2017

    Will Apple get customers to go back to school?

    Back in the early '90s Apple had a big jump on the education market, but as the company began having challenges a few years later they lost ground to the competition. Today many schools use either PCs or have begun, most recently, using Google laptops. Apple still has a presence in schools but not like the '90s. So providing learning opportunities in-store is very smart. Of course it’s not just the kids but also adults who want to learn how to use the many features and benefits Apple products provide.The biggest advantage is that Apple offers classes for free. So a customer is more inclined to purchase a product like their first iPad or computer knowing they will receive free training. Food stores have been providing cooking classes which are another great benefit, but most of the time there is a fee involved. Many retailers should think about how to educate the customer about the products they sell because it’s a great way to motivate them into making purchases. I could see home centers offering DIY classes on a variety of topics as well as office supply stores providing classes on some of their products and how to set up the ideal “home office.” Creativity and imagination are really all you need.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Did Starbucks turn its POS outage into a win?

    I think it’s amazing that with all the technology we rely on today that there aren’t more glitches. Yesterday Starbucks' POS software update was unfortunate, but there have been many times when systems have been down in stores and people couldn’t use credit cards. Starbucks could have insisted on cash-only, but I feel giving customers free coffee was a brilliant move.I always tell people that mistakes will happen but what is most important is how you handle them with your clients. Many times when there is an issue and the person accepts fault for it and provides a customer something in exchange, the company winds up having not only a happy customer but a loyal one looking forward to doing business again. Starbucks already has a huge fan base but the move yesterday shows that no matter how successful they already are, Starbucks appreciates and values everyone who buys from them. I am sure they will be more careful in the future about system software updates as anyone in business should be. But in this case, I commend Starbucks for making their customers smile with delight rather than frown with disappointment.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    How many training hours are appropriate for store-level workers?

    As someone who holds a patent on a training methodology, I see many problems with store-level training and hours allocated are only one of them. The first issue is that too many retailers insist on having their managers train the new store associates or other store associates teach them. The term “Buddy Training” is well known. The problem is that live training conducted by managers or other associates causes great inconsistency because people teach the way we do something and not necessarily the way the company wants us to.The other big issue is that even when stores provide more sophisticated training such as e-learning, often the training provided is dull and does not do a good job of teaching the store associate what he or she needs to know. Many retailers allocate the time as 10 hours, but because of the need to cover the store with enough associates, often those hours aren’t used and new hires are put out on the floor completely cold with little knowledge about how to assist customers. What’s sad is that this costs sales because customers leave unhappy and do not wish to return.The solution is to provide “effective” training by making sure that ALL training includes the key points such as what makes your business unique and why customers will shop you. Most importantly, make sure that when teaching new hires what you need them to do, you carefully explain why they need to do it. The days of just "do this" and "don’t do that" are over. Lastly, hours are not the solution. I have provided very effective training with my patented method often reducing training time by as much as 70 percent and cutting costs. So trainers need to look beyond their inside capabilities. They need to establish goals that make sense and if they can’t provide engaging and effective training themselves, they must find a good partner to help them. The more capable the store associate is to engage and assist customers the more sales the company will do. So training properly is worth every penny!
  • Posted on: 05/16/2017

    Will Walmart’s next-gen store fly with shoppers?

    In many ways I see this as a great opportunity for Walmart to reach younger shoppers. However Walmart should not overwhelm customers with too much technology. Moreover Walmart should not put too much onus on the customer forcing them to use technology they may not feel comfortable using. Today technology is increasing faster than the average person can grasp and often wants to understand. It has less to do with age than some may think. I am surprised at times with what I see 70-year-olds do on an iPhone while some 20-year-olds don’t shop online. Odd isn’t it? The point is, it’s smart for Walmart to take some risks and test this new concept. However Walmart needs to be careful to not saturate their customers with too much technology all at once. Most importantly, they must remember that the biggest benefit any store can offer a customer is the “human” experience. Some human interaction will still be vital for their success.

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