Lou is the “real thing” when it comes to passionately living customer service excellence and shares that message with clarity and humor. As a small business owner, he appreciates the practical side of customer service and every theoretical concept he presents is brought to a level of reality.
We will definitely invite him back to our future conferences as a keynote.
We are a general merchandise retailer as well as a manufacturer and wholesaler. Art Freedman has done several Customer Service Trainings with our entire team. Art’s real world experience, knowledge of Ace Hardware’s Customer Service techniques and presentation style has enabled our company to develop a culture of service which far outpaces our competition.
Sit back and listen to Gina Schaefer. She is bright, witty, entertaining, and laser-sharp in her focus. Gina is determined to translate her love of people and her passion for business into determined advocacy to motivate those lucky to be mentored by her. Gina’s biography is unique and inspirational for those of us able to learn from her example. A small business owner for just eleven years, Gina is a clear success story as she and her husband have grown their chain of Ace Hardware stores to 9.
Gina “leaned forward” long before it was fashionable, parlaying her business acumen, market savvy and enthusiasm for women in business to not only be flourishing on her own, but to serve as a role model for women everywhere desiring a meaningful career in small business. In her role as a member of the Board of Directors of Ace Hardware Corporation, Gina is uniquely positioned to spread her message amongst the young, up and coming cadre of future business leaders at Ace. Don’t misunderstand me though: Gina is more than an advocate for women in business. She “gets” the importance of Main Street to the vitality and health of our economy and quality of life. On the local and national level, Gina is a tireless advocate for diversity and vibrancy in our local economies, and will share her knowledge about why shopping local makes such a huge difference.
Your passion for customer service and developing employees was not only evident, but infectious. Your very relevant examples illustrated the how and why of paying attention to the details and left everyone with a renewed focus on going home and putting these principles into practice immediately. As a group of small business owners, your message certainly hit home and you instantly established credibility with your background of small business ownership.
The choice to ask Gina Schaefer to deliver the key note address at the 2015 Langenfeld Annual Meeting was a huge motivational success. Gina’s street level knowledge of the consumer, associate motivational needs and general business acumen made every theme she delivered something we could all relate to in our business. A simple focused presentation coupled with Gina’s embracing delivery style was met with a well-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of the address.
I personally appreciate you sharing your blueprint for how local family businesses can continue to grow and thrive in a world of big box consolidation. As you know it is a passion we both share.
I was recently pleased to welcome Gina Schaefer to a Hannaford Leadership Meeting where she served as an inspiring keynote speaker.
Hannaford, a successful regional grocer, is in the midst of identifying ways that we can enhance our delivery model through calculated risk-taking and changing paradigms. In an era of disruption, Hannaford is eager to learn from others about approaches that not only distinguish us in the markets where we do business, but also in ways that align with our strategy and core values.
Gina’s perspective was not only relevant but thought-provoking. Of particular interest were her views on engaging and supporting local communities, a cornerstone of both the Hannaford and the Ace Hardware model. She also provided insight to store-modeling for new geographies, including integration into urban markets and the “thinking out of the box” innovation required to achieve success in otherwise saturated areas.
Gina’s insight, wit, authenticity, and ability to connect with a diverse group of leaders around a common theme made her an exceptional addition to our annual summit.
“Six years ago our company was growing rapidly, yet struggling to be profitable. On the recommendation of a number of our peers, we began working with Art Freedman. Art delivered immediate results by revamping our retail pricing and rounding, which drove gross margin and our bottom line up significantly. Since then, Art’s role with Costello’s has expanded greatly and he has been instrumental in our growth and success.
A talented leader and engaging speaker, Art has spent countless hours inspiring our team of associates, managers, executives, and future leaders. He has driven results in:
1. Customer Service. Through numerous training initiatives including the implementation of
Ace’s Helpful 101
2. Marketing. By promoting creativity in branding, events, and procuring vendor funds
3. Staff development. Through many self-authored presentations on store operations and leadership including Costello’s Business Academy, an introductory leadership program given to newly hired and promoted members of management in our company.
Costello’s store count has grown by 60% in this short period; Art has been integral in positioning our company for this current and continued growth. Art has done this by creating a culture of teamwork, trust and excellence. He has added value to store operations, development & training, marketing, finance, category management, retail pricing, corporate structure – virtually every aspect of our business.
Art Freedman’s talent and passion are felt everywhere in our company from board room to sales floor.
We were recently honored by John Venhuizen’s participation in our spring conference. Our organizations share many commonalities including our cooperative structure, being retail driven and our “David vs. Goliath” challenges. John’s keynote exhibited the passion and “Servant Heart” he and his team share in supporting Independents. Further, John captured the hearts and minds of our audience with the right mix of humor and impactful information. We deeply appreciated John’s powerful message and Ace’s example of success.
From our first conversation Gina felt like an old friend; her enthusiastic personality coupled with her passion for service is not only contagious but refreshing. There’s no doubt Gina cares about her team, business and most important, the customer. Gina’s passion for community, small business and a desire to succeed allows her to successfully share her story while engaging with groups large and small. Gina was tremendous addition to our Customer Service Week celebration!