Student of the Week: Doug Winnicky of Trout Hunter


1. When did you first know you were on the right path in the specialty retail industry?
I was in the restaurant industry for 20-plus years and held positions ranging from dishwasher to manager. One summer day as restaurant manager I realized I no longer enjoyed going to work. The unique business dynamic at TroutHunter includes a restaurant, fly shop and lodge. Because of this, I was able to make a seamless transition from restaurant to fly shop. Although going from restaurant manager to fly shop employee was a professional step backward, it was eventually proven to be a prudent shift. This resulted in more time to enjoy the area I had come to love and call home (no offense to my northwestern New Jersey origins). I joined the fly shop staff in the latter part of the fishing season, and quickly learned I belonged. Through feedback from customers, co-workers and the owners, my beliefs were validated. That validation is where the epiphany came. I love outfitting our customers with the correct gear so they have the greatest opportunity to succeed and improve upon their future fly fishing endeavors. The smiles, hugs and handshakes from customers, or soon to be friends as is the usual scenario, cemented my direction in our industry.

2. What is your favorite part of the job?

The part of the job I love most is customer satisfaction. I love when a customer returns with tales of glory. Our river system is many things: technical, tough, frustrating, rewarding, awe-inspiring, mysterious, magical, therapeutic, to name only some. While in the shop, I see all levels of curious anglers enter in excitement. Nothing is more satisfying than a return visit with fly in hand and the statement, “I got one.” Whether a yearly staple or newcomer, the thoughtful comments from customers will increase your life disposition.

3. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through Mann U? 
Simple. To find out how to best serve, equip, outfit or care for the customer, listen. Our expertise is paramount, but must be focused on customer needs by asking them the proper questions and listening to their answers.

4. Give us one pointer for developing a genuine relationship with your customers.
As stated above, listening to their needs. Also, credibility is crucial. Sometimes credibility means admitting you don’t know and finding out from someone who does.

5. Your bumper sticker would read, “I’d rather be…___.”
Inspired and Inspirational.

6. What was your favorite part of working with the Mann Group?
My favorite part was seeing new retail concepts at work in our shop and the employees’ eagerness to implement them into their daily routines. I have witnessed many of our employees and myself utilizing the techniques learned from the Mann Group. It has helped our customers tremendously and given confidence to employees who were shy when engaging a customer.

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