Innovative Retail Technologies

MAY-JUN 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Interdisciplinary interaction is the recipe for success at Cavender's, where operations, merchandising, and marketing work as a cohesive business unit. F ifteen months into the VP of store operations job at 78-store Cavender's, Monica Rattay just took on the respon- sibility of leading the marketing team there as well. While it's an interim responsibil- ity brought on by the retirement of marketing head Terry Cooper, the rollup of operations and marketing under Rattay are indicative of the company's lean, cross-disciplinary style of management. We caught up with Rattay to talk about the alignment of marketing and operations at Cavender's, the 52-year-old, family-owned retail destination for the millions of heartlanders who live the Western lifestyle. Rattay's story is a classic in itself, exemplary of the bottom-up way retail executives should earn their chops. She began her retail career as a part-time, seasonal store associate at Aaron Brothers, a boutique chain of art and framing stores that was eventually purchased by Michaels Stores, the arts-and- crafts giant that currently wholly owns and operates the brand. She spent 27 years there, beating the odds faced by most seasonal hires. Rattay worked her way through store management to corporate and, eventually, VP of store operations. In that role, she built the company's sales training and associate development programs while running store financials for the business. When she joined Cavender's in November 2015, she admits there was concern about her cultural fit. This is, after all, a company founded and run by a family of Texas ranchers. Its CFO, Innovative Retail Technologies editorial Inside Cavender's Culture Of Collaboration advisory board member Jim Thompson, is a financial backer and event worker on the Texas rodeo circuit who famously wears jeans and cowboy boots always and requires the same of his colleagues. For her part, Rattay put the company's fears to rest. When we met up at the NRF BIG Show in New York last year, she was sporting corporate gear, right down to her boots. While Cavender's prides itself on selling merchandise that's "ranch tested," it takes an especially good pair of cowboy boots to nurture a pair of feet busy pounding the streets of Manhattan and the Javits Center. Her willingness to embrace the brand notwithstanding, Rattay's resumé stood for itself. She could build teams, assess their weaknesses, identify their opportunities, and build on their strengths. It didn't matter whether her people were selling high-end frames or high-end boots. Her people, she says, are her inspiration. She just took on responsibility for the company's 12-person marketing team, and she's already enamored with their work. She's also already integrating the responsibilities of the previously distinct marketing and operations teams. "We immediately set about an exercise to determine, from every angle, who's doing what and how we're doing it," she says. Those angles include the impact of the company's print and radio marketing on store and web operations and special events. Reaching further back into the supply chain, she allocates hours of every BY MATT PILLAR May-June 2017 28 day to communication with the company's vendors to ensure supply is meeting carefully generated demand. "My interaction is primarily with our store teams, where 50 percent of our 78 store managers have been on the job more than 15 years," she says. "I was familiar with the associate commitment we've nurtured at the store level, and I'm thrilled to find the same in our marketing department. The amount of good work we get done with a small team is amazing." Still, Rattay admits that it's not in her nature to let the status quo be. On the operations side, Rattay had forged a strong collaborative relationship with Jackie Randall, who oversees most of the merchandising responsibilities at Cavender's. What's Next "You have to get your hands dirty and work side by side with the people you're putting these new expectations on. Earn their respect, don't just demand it. You may know process improvement better than anyone, but chances are they know more about the processes you're improving." Monica Rattay, VP of Marketing and Operations, Cavender's

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