All for a song
I am quite friendly and good to be with, so people give me information quite freely.
“When I talk to a customer, I don’t look like a scary CEO in a grey suit out to intimidate them. I am like a mum on the school run, asking them, ‘How does that work for you?’ or talking to them about their work and kids and how that influences their purchasing decisions. I get honest feedback, and that works everywhere.”
What then does the retail guru prescribe to boost retail sales? Nothing very drastic, just plain old common sense, says Kate. According to her, there are the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ in the retail business. “You go to someone’s house and feel welcomed, taken care of – if you are treated like that in retail, that’s really good,” she says. “The bad is when it’s an expanse of glitz and gold and people stand around not caring if you are interested in the goods or not, if they are sad and tired, or uncaring and boorish.
“There are others who are always waiting for the makeover that’s nine months away. Why not make some money now? When you don’t look after the customers you have, that’s plumbing the depths. I’ve seen a lot of this in Australia, and in the UK. They are busy spending money trying to improve their business in other areas, when they should be taking care of the customers. It’s like someone coming into your home and you ignore them. They’re not likely to come back, are they, even if you jazzed up your home for them?”
The ugly is when it’s a combination of all three – price, service and attitude. “When they match the price by sizing up the customer, give them the service they feel they deserve – cook up prices and cheat people,” says Kate.
The worst crime, she says, is when a shop is closing down for the night and a customer comes in and they turn him away. “It’s infuriating, and not likely to inspire loyalty.”
Kate also helps business-to-business organisations and finds that even though the way businesses operate varies depending on location, the basics are the same. “Generally people want to be treated with respect; everywhere they feel the businesses don’t say ‘thank you’ to them often enough, don’t deal with them in a friendly and honest manner, we find out what’s missing or what there should be more of, and fine-tune their modus operandi.”
Kate deals with the company bosses in much the same way as she deals with her fouryear-old daughter Nya Ella – with words of encouragement and appreciation, before telling them what they are doing wrong. “I always tell businesses what they are doing right first, so they feel better,” she says. “No one praises the owners and people at the top. They get their profits, and bonuses, but plain appreciation is hard to come by. Then come the brass tacks – this is where you are, this is where you want to be, this is how you do it.” When she was growing up Kate wanted to be a jazz and soul singer. “I very quickly realised I wasn’t going to make much money because the probability of success was so small,” she says. “I did it for six months professionally while still at school. I was the next big thing in my head. I played clubs and gigs the UK, and saw the cold, unglamorous side of it all. This was in the Nineties before Simon Cowell came along. It was really hard work and I didn’t want that kind of a life.”
While studying for her A Levels, Kate discovered a passion for marketing. “That was when I got interested in management, and even while I was studying I got into music management,” she says.
Kate was 18 when she became the lead vocalist and manager of upcoming troupe, The Fabulous BB Kings. She brokered deals with Sky TV and Harley-Davidson for the band, then went on to do a degree in business.
But her passion for singing remains. Even now, she sings occasionally for various acts including Bare Faced Cheek, a band she helped start while still in college. Her own business, which she started in 2009 during the height of the recession in Europe, and charity work keep her busy and travelling the globe. She and her