A Look at Nordstrom: Building a Business on Customer Service

The Nordstrom full-line store at the Brea Mall. Buoyed by its commitment to customer service, Nordstrom has built a reputation throughout North America as a top-of-the-line clothing retailer. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Nordstrom full-line store at the Brea Mall. Buoyed by its commitment to customer service, Nordstrom has built a reputation throughout North America as a top-of-the-line clothing retailer. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

How can you build a successful startup? Examining the successes of others is a great place to start. This post, the first in an occasional series on trendsetting companies, looks at Nordstrom, which for more than a century has been synonymous with top-of-the-line customer service. Businesses across many industries often speak of being the “Nordstrom” of their respective field. Providing top-notch service is one way entrepreneurs can set their concepts above the competition.

When Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom opened a shoe store in Downtown Seattle in 1901 with business partner Carl Wallin, he probably never dreamed that his upstart business would become a global clothing retail icon. Since 1928, the company has remained in the hands of the Nordstrom family, currently under the direction of fourth-generation company executives. Despite a positive reputation in the Seattle metropolitan area, it was not until 1963 that the company expanded to sell women’s clothing in addition to shoes. In 1978, Nordstrom made company and Orange County history by opening at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, its first venture outside of the Pacific Northwest. Today, Nordstrom has 123 full-line stores and 215 Nordstrom Rack locations, the chain’s off-price retail outlet.

The Customer Service Focus

“Nordstrom has seen consistent success throughout the years because they maintain a high level of focusing on consumers,” says Abbey Doneger, CEO of retail analysis firm the Doneger Group. Robert Spector, the coauthor of the 2012 book, The Nordstrom Way, notes, “Every store talks about customer service, but very few actually get it, so it becomes a cliché to mention it. But Nordstrom actually believes in it.”

Very liberal return policies, empowering employees to address customer concerns, a balanced product assortment including both high-end and more modestly priced clothing, and a contemporary yet classy ambiance are among the concepts that Nordstrom has pioneered for the retail clothing world. Continue reading

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Get an Inside Look at Your Future Career through the Executive Council Mentoring Program

Delaney Gurol ’17 (left) says her mentor, Mike McKennon ’83 (right) has given her a behind-the-scenes look at the accounting industry as part of the Executive Council Mentoring Program.

Delaney Gurol ’17 (left) says her mentor, Mike McKennon ’83 (right) has given her a behind-the-scenes look at the accounting industry as part of the Executive Council Mentoring Program.

Mihaylo’s Executive Council gives students the opportunity to connect with professionals in the college’s network to train the next generation of leaders. The program is currently accepting student applications for spring 2017. Apply online.

Imagine having direct access to a successful businessperson in your field. You can ask any questions you have about their career and the industry, visit them at work and get an inside perspective at how their business operates, gaining valuable insight on your chosen career path. Thanks to the Executive Council Mentoring Program, Mihaylo undergraduate students from the sophomore to senior level have the opportunity to gain individualized attention from members of the Executive Council, which provides funding and industry-specific guidance for the college. The program is designed for students in the Business Honors and Dean’s Scholars programs, as well as students involved in clubs recognized by the Business Inter-Club Council.

Students are matched with mentors based on industry of interest. After an initial meeting, the mentor and mentee are expected to meet in person at least once per month during the semester with additional contact through phone or email.

Reflections of a Student and Mentor

“I enjoy being a mentor because I have the opportunity to interact with bright, young students who are eager to learn in the field of public accounting,” says Mike McKennon ’83 (accounting), owner of dbb McKennon and recipient of the 2016 Executive Council Mentor of the Year award. “For some students, this is their first experience in the accounting profession outside of their classes. It is rewarding to see a mentee grow in their knowledge and passion for their profession. I view this program as a great opportunity to recruit the brightest and the best students that CSUF offers.”

Business Honors Senior Delaney Gurol ’17 (accounting), McKennon’s mentee, has developed herself professionally through the program. “Mike was seriously the best. He invited me to tour his company and to shadow some of his employees at work. I even got to go with staff members to another firm and see how auditing works. I got so much knowledge and first-hand experience from seeing up close what happens at an accounting firm. I am so happy I had the chance to work with an incredible professional who owns a successful business who gave me a chance to learn from him.”

The Executive Council Mentoring Program will have its next cycle during spring 2017. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2017. An application and more information are available online.

Have the experience and interest to be a mentor? Contact Development and Alumni Relations Associate Amanda Leon at amleon@fullerton.edu.

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Human Resources Professionals to Share Career Insights with CSUF Students

Mihaylo Alumnae Tawanda Starms ’00 (left) and Frederica Weimer ’86 (right) will be among the five panelists at the SEHR Human Resources Executive Panel.

Mihaylo Alumnae Tawanda Starms ’00 (left) and Frederica Weimer ’86 (right) will be among the five panelists at the SEHR Human Resources Executive Panel.

A panel discussion open to all Cal State Fullerton students will be held on Monday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by Mihaylo’s Society of Excellence in Human Resources (SEHR), which seeks to equip students for careers in human resources and related fields.

Hoping for a rewarding career in a growing field? Consider human resources, which offers competitive pay, advancement opportunities and good working conditions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources specialists have a median income of $58,350 per year, while human resources managers make $104,440 per year.

SEHR is offering Cal State Fullerton students an introduction to the field with a panel discussion featuring five local professionals: Mark Manion, senior human resources leader for the landing gear and fuel tanks operations of GE Aviation; Karen Meno, director of learning and organizational development for the Irvine Company; Dan Shea, vice president of human resources for TRI Pointe Group; Tawanda Starms ’00 (finance) human resource director of Thales; and Frederica Weimer ’86 (management), vice president of human resources for the Boeing Company.

Students will have the opportunity to ask the panelists questions about human resources employment, their personal backgrounds and industry challenges. Food will be provided. The event, which will be held at SGMH 3230 on Monday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m., is open to all Cal State Fullerton students. Business casual dress is required. Free registration is available online.

SEHR, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), promotes the professional development of Mihaylo students seeking a career in human resources through social events, networking opportunities and volunteerism. For more information, visit their Facebook page or email SEHR.CSUF@gmail.com.

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Black Friday by the Numbers

Shoppers rush into a mall early on Black Friday morning in 2013. The day became a major consumer and media event in the 2000s though there are doubts over its future importance. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Shoppers rush into a mall early on Black Friday morning in 2013. The day became a major consumer and media event in the 2000s though there are doubts over its future importance. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Americans will turn out by the millions this Friday for the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Here is a look at the key metrics and history of the annual consumer spending spree.

This week, students will relish a week off classes and enjoy family and good food on the Thanksgiving holiday. But most will also spend at least some of their time shopping. Since the Great Depression era, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the beginning of the holiday season. But in the past two decades, it has developed into an annual ritual for retailers of every stripe.

Here is a synopsis of what could arguably be considered America’s greatest annual celebration of the consumer economy.

From Four-Day Weekend to Shopping Holiday

Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, giving many corporate and government employees a four-day weekend. While traditionally a time to enjoy family and begin decorating for the holiday season, the weekend has developed into a multifaceted retail extravaganza, composed of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Continue reading

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Dachs 2 Danes: Erin Foate ’07 Discusses Her Pet-Care Startup

 “You need to be able to understand and relate to customers on an emotional level to succeed in the pet industry,” says Mihaylo Entrepreneurship Aluma Erin Foate ’07.

“You need to be able to understand and relate to customers on an emotional level to succeed in the pet industry,” says Mihaylo Entrepreneurship Aluma Erin Foate ’07.

Erin Foate ’07 (entrepreneurship) provides a look at her pet-care startup, Dachs 2 Danes Inc., and gives advice on starting your own business, whether it focuses on two- or four-legged clientele.

Pets are big business in today’s economy. According to the American Pet Products Association, the U.S. was expected to spend more than $60 billion on pets in 2015, with $1,641 spent annually on basic expenses for the average dog. As more people view their pets as valuable members of the family, more businesses are being established to provide grooming, training, health care and pampering to pets.

Mihaylo Entrepreneurship Alumna Erin Foate ’07 started a dog day care business in 2014. Her Anaheim-based startup, Dachs 2 Danes Inc., offers dog day care, boarding, grooming and training. The business also offers in-home pet care for North Orange County owners of animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, reptiles and horses.

“I was inspired by my dog, Romeo, to start a doggy day care,” says Foate. “I hated leaving him home alone all day, and I thought there must be other people who felt the same way about their dogs. When I got involved with more dogs and their owners, I realized that pet owners had many needs. That eventually led me to provide care for a wide variety of pets in their own home, in addition to providing dog day care and boarding.” Continue reading

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