What We Can Learn From Toys R Us

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On Friday, June 29, 2018, Toys R Us will close its last store. What once was THE toy store is no more. Rumors are that they will sell the name to an Asian Company for an undisclosed amount and that will be the end of an era. I have always believed that there is a lot to learn, not only from our own failures, but from the failures of others.  

What can we learn from Toys R Us’ demise?

How do we keep our story from becoming like that of Toys R Us? 

Three Ways To Avoid Becoming a Toys R Us

1. Keep the First Impression First. 

When Toys R Us first opened, when you walked in the store it felt like something out of Disneyland, with lights, music, multiple elaborate displays, and even a Cartoon-Like Giraffe character walking through the aisles taking pictures with the kids. We went to the store, not just for a transaction, but for an experience.Over time, Toys R Us began to pursue expansion over the first impression customer experience. I see this happen all the time in churches, restaurants...even doctor’s offices! As we grow and expand, we must also keep a close eye on maintaining a very strong, engaging, first impression customer experience. If we lose the WOW factor that made us special in the beginning, it will eventually bite us in the heel. By the way, the store, office, campus, or worship service is never the first impression. Our website is now the first impression a customer gets. Amazon and others came along and offered a better first impression experience online, and it was the beginning of the end for them. Pay closest attention to the first impression!  

2. Don’t Try To Do Too Much.

When Toys R U first opened, they didn’t try to offer every toy imaginable. They created elaborate displays to highlight some of the new and most innovative products hitting the market, salted in a few additional products on the shelves behind it, and people gobbled up their products. As Toys R Us, aged, they felt the pressure to offer everything that every other toy store offered, the aisles got more crowded with STUFF, and innovative things began to get lost in all the minutia. As our organization grows, we tend to feel the same pressure. Even “Babies R Us” was a failed experiment that did nothing to slow the organization’s demise! Offering MORE was never the solution. We must constantly fight the temptation to get in the race of trying to offer MORE than everyone else, or even offer what everyone else is offering and doing what everyone else is doing. Instead, we stick to our core and the few things we do better or differently than anyone else.  Less...is More!

3. Customer. Service.

In the beginning, Toys R Us had the best toy people who had the best training. Over time, they began to think so much of their brand they they thought they could get by with less than the best customer service. Customer service is dead in most franchise situations, and the market is ripe for smaller, boutique locations to WOW people with the Customer Service. Target is gaining on Wal-Mart right now, not because they offer more products and service, but because they offer higher paid, more well trained, more staffed locations, with shorter lines and warmer staff. Customer Service is the new Blue Ocean. No one is doing it! Amazon can’t offer that. Wal-Mart won’t. You can.