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: 10/06/2021

    Target is giving associates even more reasons to stay

    It is now, and has always been, a put-your-staff-first business for retailers. The problem is that too many in the past, and still too many today, don't get this. Target gets it! Well done.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2021

    Will JCPenney’s ‘new, inclusive beauty experience’ relaunch be a hit?

    I'm not going to knock them for trying to come up with something "new" (inclusivity, unfortunately, is new for most -- but won't be a differentiator for long as most will jump on this). The challenge for J.C. Penney, as for most every department store, is that for many, many years they have been "out-retailed" by pretty much every one else in the retail game. You can get a better product selection, better pricing, better service, better merchandising, better -- well, everything! -- at most every other specialized retailer. The middle-of-the-road department store model is dead, they just don't know it yet.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2021

    Higher wages can boost retailers’ bottom lines

    Staff aren't an expense -- they're an investment. For most retailers, they've typically been viewed as just an expense -- reduce it, squeeze it, cut it. Now, more and more, retailers are realizing that their staff are one of their best assets/investments. Taking care of that asset through better wages, amazing recognition programs, and proper leadership will always pay dividends. A reduction in staff turnover rates will, on its own, cover most of the cost of a wage increase (note: few actually calculate the true cost of turnover). The ability to attract top talent goes up. And an engaged workforce is always more productive.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2021

    Are over-attentive associates creeping shoppers out?

    What's the most important step when selling? Rapport! We always say that as much as 70 percent of your sales success is tied to your ability to establish rapport and a connection to your customer. So if you lack rapport, it doesn't matter how close or how far away you stand from the customer. Contrast that to when, as a customer, you have a good rapport with the sales representative: You trust them. You listen to them. You don't care if they are standing close to you. You could have just as many customers who are frustrated by not being able to get waited on in stores. That's an even bigger problem. Give the store teams the training and support they need -- finally.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2021

    Are four drive-thru lanes better than two?

    Great use of limited land space. Great design that stands out above the crowd (of course). This is a winning design, but don't forget that not everyone always wants to just grab their food and go. Sitting with friends/family in a restaurant to share a meal is part of our social DNA. There will always be a place for more traditional sit-down restaurants. This new Taco Bell Defy concept certainly has a place -- just not the whole playground.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2021

    Does retail have a problem with how it recruits and hires workers?

    Great article, with solid points made. Paula Rosenblum nails it too with her comments! There is no easy answer for the "swamp" that so many retailers created over the years. Treating staff as an expense, and a disposable one at that, created an overall poor brand for a retail career. Yet there's an ever-increasing number of retailers that not only view their staff as valuable assets, but also treat them as what they are -- humans! A living wage is a starting point. Having better managers in place that know how to create an amazing work experience is essential. Training, coaching, rewards, recognition, advancement opportunities -- there's a long list of things that need to be in place if retailers stand a chance of attracting and keeping staff. But for those brick-and-mortar retailers out there, if you don't recognize the immense value of your front line teams now, you likely never will.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    Will ending non-competes be good for retail workers and their bosses?

    There is a place for non-compete clauses -- but a very limited place. The problem is that too many employers have used a strong-arm approach to implementing them when hiring someone. I've seen people leave a company (in most cases because they were working for bad bosses) who were blocked from working within their sector for too long. If you're at the top, then there may be a good argument to be made for them. But that's about 1 percent of most companies. The other 99 percent (who do the hard work and build the brand every day) deserve the freedom to work for whomever they want.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2021

    Target and Chipotle are watching TikTok video resumes to find workers

    Whether they come through TikTok or any other vehicle, video resumes are, in many ways, so much better than the typical written resume. Experience and education are good, but getting to see and hear the candidate gives the employer a much needed insight into the candidate that often trumps what the written resume can provide.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Membership gets you 24/7 access at new grocery store

    Interesting concept to be sure. Let me put another lens on this: is this just another evolution driven by the desire to minimize the need for staff (read: humans)? Technology may be a wonderful thing -- but what happens to your retail business when those humans who used to work for you no longer have a job, and hence have no money to spend in your stores? Take a look at the auto industry where robotics have replaced thousands of workers in the plants. Look to the future when autonomous trucks will replace 2 million drivers in the U.S. alone. Rest assured, I love all this innovation in the retail world. It's just worth a few minutes to stand back and consider the larger impact these changes may have along the way.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Have flagships become obsolete?

    A "flagship" was the ship that carried the commander of the fleet and flied the commander's flag. It was better than every other ship in the fleet in every respect. So too must a flagship store be. It's not enough to rent a big, high profile location and then just do the usual (boring) store. It needs to be a true experience that brings the brand to life and wows customers. And while it's great if you can make money at the flagship, the measurement of that store needs to extend beyond just the cash register. That store, done right, is the "commercial" that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Done right, it drives awareness, traffic to the online site, and even traffic to your other stores.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Can Wilson Sports win at lifestyle fashion and consumer-direct sales?

    I'm a tennis player (OK, not a very good one) so I'm very familiar with the Wilson brand. To me, this makes a lot of good sense. There is value in the brand they've built, so they should mine that value by extending into a limited apparel line. As for opening stores, that's another question. Microsoft has a big, BIG brand and a lot of products. Their stores in Canada shut down. So Wilson may want to consider building out their apparel brand online first until it becomes a success.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2021

    Do micro distribution points (AKA stores) give Petco an edge over Chewy and Amazon?

    Fulfilling from a store has so many advantages, as noted above from so many of the comments. Consider this: yesterday I ordered something online from a kitchen store located close to my office. They called me 10 minutes later saying it was ready to pick up! A win for the customer, and for the store as well.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2021

    Is Amazon the safest place to work in retail?

    This is a good move for Amazon on several fronts:
    1. Looking after your employees is your first priority;
    2. It will boost the bottom line in the mid to long term for the company as we all know that engaged employees are infinitely more productive.
    3. As always, Amazon knows how to get free advertising as they know this will be picked up not just by us BrainTrust panelists, but also the media who will give them millions of "imprints" at no cost.
    4. Every business, not just Amazon, needs to implement programs that keep employees safe, respected and engaged.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Hubert Joly says ‘human connection’ laid the foundation of Best Buy’s turnaround

    Can we clone Mr. Joly, please? By all reasonable measures, Best Buy could/should have been among the casualties of online shopping. Yet here they are winning the game by differentiating themselves through amazing staff. Product and price are rarely differentiators anymore. The greatest variable to leverage is the quality of the staff interaction with customers. Mr. Joly saw what so many don't see -- the opportunity to drive the business by creating an amazing work experience for their team members. Seeing employees as their most valuable asset, and not an expense item.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Are retailers making it too tough for seniors to shop online?

    Better websites would help. But how about including a short tutorial video that walks people through how the website works? Show people how to add/delete from the cart, add promo codes -- everything that you think they should know, but likely don't. Don't make the assumption that everyone has a relative to show them the ropes, or that everyone has tech skills.

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