Feature Student: Brian Billdt

When did you first know you were on the right path in the specialty retail industry?
I knew I was on the right path when my team and I did a competitive analysis of the competition in Indonesia and found them to be amazingly lacking in everything important to specialty retail.

And when my mentor gave me the book Blue Ocean Strategy, I quickly saw how we could steer away from the competition and offer a level of service, shopping experience and products not yet seen in specialty fitness retail here.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
The favorite part of my job is leading and managing our teams with a motivational theme to be the best they can be; setting goals and deciding how to reach them—and facing head on the fears that might get in the way and developing strategies to conquer them.

Of course the feedback from customers that have found their lives changed by our products and services in assisting them to make fitness and fat loss dreams a reality is always satisfying.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned through Mann U?
The most valuable thing I learned was that its all about the people, like the dedicated, trusted “advisors” we have trained to explain the fitness machines we sell and offer the personal training to make sure the equipments are used and the diets followed. There is no substitute for the people who educate, inspire and equip the customer on their fitness journey. And equally important from Mann U was the specific management and supervisory skills I learned that help me to this day to identify problems and morale issues and to hire smarter and train smarter in specialty retail.

Give us one pointer for developing a genuine relationship with your customers.
I would say it’s the never-ending priority to be “present” in the shops and making a constant effort to engage customers every chance we get, rigorously seeking feedback. This might sound rather old school but I have yet to see the high-tech surveys that will get me to know my customers.

Your bumper sticker would read, “I’d rather be… ___.”
“…biking or hiking.”

What was your favorite part of working with the Mann Group?
My favorite part of Mann U is that Leslie and Dan are the antitheses of “hit and run.” They are “intentional” about keeping in touch, answering questions, giving advice—and they offer services to alumni that are unprecedented, like the disc analysis, discounts on repeat attendees and additional employees discounts.

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