Kevin Graff

President, Graff Retail

Kevin is the President of Graff Retail Inc. He is a retail and training professional with over 20 years of related experience. Founded in 1988, Kevin started what is now Canada’s leading training and consulting firm that specializes in working with retail organizations around the globe.

His years of consulting and delivering speeches and training seminars makes him keenly aware of the real life challenges facing the retail industry. All aspects of the retail operation including hiring and orientation of employees, staff and sales management, customer service initiatives and selling and retail strategies are areas of practical experience and success for Kevin.

Keynote Speaker: Kevin has presented hundreds of keynote addresses to a variety of retail, sales and service business audiences around the globe. Inevitably, the highlight of most conferences.

Author: Authored the books Winning Retail and Selling with Passion. Kevin also writes The Graff Retail Report, a monthly newsletter read by thousands of retailers around the globe.

Trainer Extraordinaire: Kevin consistently receives ratings that exceed 95% when he delivers training programs. Audiences love him!

Program Design: Kevin has lead the development of literally hundreds of training programs and systems over the past 20 years. Of great pride is the accomplishment of having these programs win The Retail Council of Canada’s Best Employee Development Programs Award not once, not twice … FIVE times!

Membership: Kevin is a member of The President’s Club at The Retail Council of Canada. He is also actively involved in several Retail Council of Canada events.

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to work with clients such as Costco Wholesale, Roots, Sony, Home Hardware, Staples, Canada Post Corporation, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws and hundreds of other retailers across the globe.

  • Posted on: 05/18/2016

    Is the retail sky falling?

    Facts are facts. And the most overlooked fact is that while online sales are growing, the VAST majority of sales (90 percent?) are still done in stores and the bottom isn't about to fall out of that number anytime soon.What I think you're seeing is that "middling," run-of-the-mill retailers are in danger. Consumers are more knowledgeable and demanding. Only those brick-and-mortar retailers who step up and provide a better in-store experience will win. The good news is that lots are.The media loves to play the negative angle. The best thing that could happen for retail is for the media to go away!
  • Posted on: 05/06/2016

    Holy Smiley Face! Walmart brings back greeters

    Glad to see the greeter position is back (when I eventually retire that might be the only thing I'm qualified to do!). The right greeter can make a world of difference to the experience. Customers remember their first impression, and last impression, of the store more than any other. A genuine friendly greeting, helpful assistance and a warm exit goes a long way in a retail world that is often just lost in product and price.

  • Posted on: 05/05/2016

    Whole Foods rents out space to ‘Friends’ in new 365 stores

    What's not to like? Customers win by getting a much broader and better experience. Whole Foods gets rent plus a piece of the action with little-to-no risk. And Whole Foods gets to experiment with new ideas with little-to-no investment.

  • Posted on: 05/03/2016

    Can grocers get in on the ‘food truck revolution’?

    Confession up front: I'm a bit of a food truck groupie! So, having said that, I love the idea of any well-executed, experience-based outreach initiative that takes the grocer's brand out to the community and to a much higher level. Just parking the food truck outside the grocery store itself screams for attention and expands the possibilities for customers and the grocer alike.

    Food on a shelf is just food. Food cooked up deliciously, presented exquisitely and served in a way you typically don't expect is what creates the experience needed to set a grocer apart.

  • Posted on: 04/01/2016

    Have omnichannel initiatives taken attention away from stores?

    Nice to see a retailer that gets it. I've been ranting a lot on stage lately about how retailers have taken their eye off the prize they already have — thousands of willing customers already entering their stores. With online sales predicted to grow to about 15 percent (I know, it's a hotly debated number) by the end of the decade, that means 85 percent will still be done in stores. And I promise you this: Retailers are losing more than 15 percent of potential sales every day in their stores because of poor staff performance and bad execution (another staff thing). Refocusing on running the stores better and regaining those lost sales will pay back faster than most any other investment.

    I'm not saying digital-this and digital-that isn't important. It is. But let's keep it in perspective.

  • Posted on: 03/29/2016

    Store fulfillment is creating associate tension

    Some very good points in the article and great suggestions from everyone above me in the panel. We've gone down this road with various retail clients. People who like to sell don't want to and aren't any good at administrative or pick and pack type tasks. And people who like to pick and pack typically don't like to sell and aren't very good at it. This is a case of adjusting your hiring and staffing practices. It's not a pay and incentive issue. Hire the right people to do the job they can succeed at.

  • Posted on: 03/17/2016

    Penney gives managers more time with customers

    Here's what I tell every store manager: the customers, staff and product are on the floor. That's where you need to be. We make money on the floor, not the back room. If you're in the back room pushing paper, you are an overpaid administrator. The talent we need from the manager is to be the merchant, the coach and the leader. Not the paper pusher. It is way easier to teach someone how to fill out reports than to run a profitable sales floor.
    Get out of the back room and onto the floor!

  • Posted on: 02/22/2016

    Walmart associates gain greater control over schedules

    Not sure how to give a standing ovation on this forum, but that's what I would give Walmart for this move! The staff experience is just as important as the customer experience. Look for more and more retailers to smell the coffee and improve every element of the staff experience.

  • Posted on: 02/18/2016

    Will Saks succeed in bringing Fifth Avenue to Toronto?

    Well, given I'm a Canadian and living up here I should voice my view. Look for Saks to have a moderate level of success. One of the keys is that most of their stores will be inside existing HBC stores (HBC being the owner of Saks) so the real estate side of the business makes a lot of sense. Additionally, once they get rolling with their Off 5th stores they'll find a strong market for them here.

    The luxury market has been under-served here in the past, and now it's getting pretty crowded with the arrival/expansion of Saks/Nordstrom/Simons and the improved Holt Renfrew stores. The good news (depending on where you sit at the table) is that the income levels are polarizing with the upper end growing fast. So there's a larger-than-ever appetite for luxury.

    I'll be at their grand opening of their first store tonight and expect it to be packed with customers.

  • Posted on: 02/08/2016

    What are BOPIS’s most glaring growing pains?

    So you spend millions building a store, stocking it with inventory and scheduling it with staff. Then you launch your click-and-collect program (thanks Nikki!) and see it used as nothing more than a glorified vending machine! Customers come into the store, pick up their product and leave. The staff at the pick up counters look like transaction bots whose only job is to track down the item and hand it to the customer.

    Look, the "hook" of the click-and-collect program is that you actually get the customer to (finally) come into your store. For goodness sake, teach your staff how to sell them more stuff while they're there!

  • Posted on: 02/03/2016

    Is Amazon planning a big bookstore rollout?

    I guess you can only live in the clouds for so long before reality sets in that says the vast majority of sales occur today (and will for a very long time) in good old fashioned brick-and-mortar stores. For all the noise created about online/mobile shopping, consumers are still spending their hard earned dollars in stores.

    Sure, online is convenience on steroids, but the experience is lacking in most categories. The experience of browsing a store with real books and real people (both staff and customers) trumps the convenience of shopping online. Not for all consumers, but for most.
    Amazon is smarter than your average bear, so I'd be prepared to bet a fair amount on the success of this venture.

  • Posted on: 02/02/2016

    Will the third time be a charm or last strike for Circuit City?

    I never say never ... but this is pretty close to that mark.

    Question: Aren't there about a thousand other great retail concepts that you could invest in/develop that would be a much better place to put your money into?

  • Posted on: 01/27/2016

    What happens when Walmart closes a store?

    No offense to the consumers in communities who opted to spend a nickel less on an apple at Walmart and as a result put their local business out of business, but seriously, they kind of did this to themselves. Consumers vote with their wallets. Now, for the softer side of me, it would be socially responsible for Walmart to extend some added help to the employees displaced by their closing.

  • Posted on: 01/26/2016

    The why and how to do an employee review

    Good points as always, Bob!

    The annual performance review is a dinosaur that produces nothing more than some paper to move around, evaluation of the past month at best and justification for some bizarre pay raise tied to yet another year of employment.

    For store management teams, the introduction of a quarterly review process that includes a comprehensive evaluation of total store performance produces ongoing improvement in the performance of the individual and the store.

    Front-line sales staff should be involved in a weekly or bi-weekly coaching process that essentially sees them coaching themselves when it's designed right.

    The key is an ongoing, frequent approach to both reviews of performance levels and coaching.

  • Posted on: 01/14/2016

    Sheetz becomes an even better place to work

    Sheetz gets the bouquet of the day! The norm (paying as little as possible to front-line staff) is going to seem like the dark ages pretty soon, or so I hope. Front-line staff are becoming more important every day as consumers become both more educated and demanding due to the presence of online shopping and increased competition levels. It's the front-line staff that are essential to providing a great shopping experience in all stores, including convenience stores.

    A better quality of applicant, decreased staff turnover and improved productivity will easily pay for the increase in pay rates. Here's hoping that other retailers, especially those making millions, take note and follow suit.

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