In his eBook, Raving Fan Creation, author and President of Direct/CMO at The Yankee Candle Company, Brad Wolansky, attempts to answer the ultimate question in today’s saturated retail market for consumer goods: How do companies remain profitable amidst the multitude of gross-margin reducing tactics of their competitors? For Brad, the answer lies in customer service. While providing exceptional customer service 24/7
can be costly, he advises retailers to see these costs as an investment.
Lori Hawthorne, Events Director of the eTail events series, sat down with Brad to discuss his new position and project.
Q: Why did you write your book?
A: It was a way to put all of my thoughts down in one place and convey [them] to companies that I work with. It was also a way to convey it to people in my organization and to let them know my executive
point of view. What I’ve learned about customer service is that not all executives view [having it] as a competitive advantage. It’s important that my customer service team knows that. It’s not just an expense; it’s actually something that has a competitive advantage. [Raving Fan Creation describes] why I believe that, as well as my best advice [on how to be] efficient at it.
Q: Will it be sold to the general public?
A: haven’t made it available for purchase yet. Right now [it’s] available for free via my Linkedin profile.
Q: What’s the one thing you love most about your job with Yankee Candle?
A: In my dual role as President of Direct and CMO, I get to be creative every day. I mean creative in marketing. Not a day goes by where we are not figuring out a new marketing promotion or a better way to talk to our customers. I can be creative in applying my skill set, and it’s fun. When it stops being fun, I’m done.
Q: And one thing you like the least?
A: The challenge is that there are so many good ideas and so many things we can be doing, [but we have to figure] out what to do first. It is hard to manage the competing great ideas that we have for our brand. There are so many great things to do, but we can’t do all of them. We have to select which ones will give us the biggest bang for our buck.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: One piece of advice that I received as I was going into the CMO role was, “There are a lot of people who you’ll work with, or who want to work with you, so get to know folks well before proceeding. Get to know what they are thinking, what their motivations are, what really drives them, and understand their advice to you, and how and why they are participating with you.”
When you first meet someone, all sides are generally enthusiastic about developing a relationship. Whatever your ‘situation’ is, get to know them a little bit and understand what floats their boat, so it’s a win/win on both sides. Sometimes in your zeal to get things done and be successful, [you] move too too fast and can miss the opportunities.
Q: What is one piece of career advice you’d offer colleagues and employees?
A: I would pass along that same advice [I mentioned before]. There is also one additional piece of advice that I tell people – always ask one more question. Ask that extra question about any given situation. I encourage people to say, “Why is that? Does that have to be the case? Is there a better way to do that?” Particularly when you are using data, always ask extra questions.
Q: What is one fun fact about yourself that not everyone knows?
A: I’m a private pilot. I fly a 1963 Sessna Stationaire single engine plane. I took up flying over 20 years ago. When you fly, you have to singularly focus on the mental dynamics of flying the plane, and you can’t let the office stuff creep in. I like the intellectual stimulation of it, and the challenges of flying a plane.