Yu Xiaojing (32) was born in Weihai City, China,where the people are known for being direct and straight forward but very warm.Being one of the best cities , located between the mountains and the ocean, there are many tourist attractions and it is the first Environmental City in China.
Since 2009, Mrs. Yu has been the manager of a SPAR Hypermarket.She told Contact, “My desire to deliver high quality service is always top of my mind. We are always thinking of the food needs of our customers. We can sense whether our customer is satisfied with our service or not, even when they do not speak. We can judge by their eyes and emotions.”
How did you become a storemanager at SPAR?
I found my first position as a cashier in Jiajiayue Supermarket in 1998.After graduating from school, I became head of that departmentand was assistant store manager in Qilu Store and Tongcheng Store, in June 2002 and September 2003 respectively.
What have you learnt and enjoyed in these pastseven years?
As a qualified store manager my experience working in the store has taught me to be both knowledgeable and willing to learn.Good customer service and better understanding of the customer are the success factors of the store.Not only do I learn every day about retailing and related information, I also learn from my colleagues, mystaff and my customers.
Can you tell us something about the development of the store?
The store was opened on 30October, 2000. It now hasa sales area of 780m2. We adopted a stepped managementapproach: Store Manager-Headof department-Staff Members. Infuture, we plan to provide quality service, product ranges for customers,and continuously work on store operation and innovation.Do you have special skills indealing with your customers? Quality service means we should exceed their expectations and be ready to serve at any time.For example, in the food to go department when a customer has bought food, we give them a pair of chopsticks before they ask. I actively greet our regular customers.We talk about their shopping habits and preferences. I also ask for their ideas and suggestions where we can improve.
Where is your store located?
Our store is in the Shandong Weihai Economic Development Zone,where transportation is easily available. Two Asian retailers are our closest competitors. Nearby our store and the coastline is the Weihai Ocean Park, a great place to relax.During the summer it is visited by many tourists. The Park includes an amusement area, an artificial park, Eco-forests, a bathing beachand a travelling resort area. In the tourist season water, soft drinks,casual snacks and local specialties such as stewed sea fish, Chinese pancake dumpling, prawn paste,roasted oyster and clams, are the best sellers.
Tell us about the specialty departments.
A self-service steamed bread department and a vegetable department are two of the more unique features in the store. The pasta department offers a large variety of hand-made foods, as well as local specialty pastas.Catering to local residents and customers'demand, the vegetable department offers pre-packaged,environmentally friendly products.Preparing food by hand using flour is one of our traditions. On the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, people make the 12 animals of the year. When elderly people celebrate their birthday, the family will make peach-shaped steam bread symbolizing wishes for a long life.
Can you tell us some moreabout the local food?
Fish and seafood is a very important department for us and we offer a broad range. We advise customers that whatever they want they can have! Fig is one of the most famous fruits, being rich in several enzymes, proteins and mineral elements. We make a special food called ‘daughter-in- law pancake’. It used to be made only at weddings but now it is eaten all the time. Other local foods arecherries, fig wine and nuts.
Please describe your customer profile?
In the morning, our shoppers are usually retired senior citizens living nearby. In the afternoon the majority of shoppers are workers in organizations, primarily government employees who are very loyal to us.
Please share the shopping pattern of your customers with our readers.
Fresh products and basic living necessities are the good sellers.As for private brands, SPAR instant noodles are popular here;customers comment positively on the flavours, quality and price.
How would you describe yourself as a manager?
I not only endeavor to achieve the budget and various key performance indicators, but as a Hypermarket store manager I also run things with a firm hand,which is not easy. More skills andknowledge are required, since product ranges and categories are much wider than those in a supermarket. There is more staff to manage; more work to be doneand greater responsibilities. All of this requires better working techniques, better communication skills and co-coordinating ability.
Can you describe why it’s nice to be a SPAR store manager?
I would like to tell about a ‘difficult customer who regularly bought only‘a little meat, one green union and 1.4 of cabbage. At that time these were products sold in bulk which made her shopping list difficult for us to fulfill. But we assisted her and always greeted her with a smile. At a certain moment she suggested that we pack only two unions in a bag and sell them for a little more than the ones we sold in bulk. We matched the suggestion to our customer profile and developed many packed products. Now we greet each other as old friends.