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  • Teresa Carey

Two Sporting Goods Companies* Diverged at a Hampton Inn

On a recent trip to St. George, Utah, we had an unexpected encounter with two well-known brands. While one experience sealed our loyalty for a long time to come, the other left us wondering if we’ll ever do business with them again.

My husband had raced in a world championship IM triathlon event that day. Craving a good night’s sleep after being emotionally and physically exhausted (one of us more than the other!), we turned in early. Around 1:00 a.m., we were awaked by loud voices and door slamming in the room next door. Even with a couple of wall knocks and a call to the front desk, they never took the hint and kept the fun going for four long hours.

That morning when we complained to the front desk, we were bonused with the information the group was from Dick Sporting Goods. It turns out they had been inventorying that night at the store across the street and decided to continue team bonding all night long.

No sooner had we had turned from the front desk to grab a cup or two of essential caffeine, we bumped into a Zion Park tour guide who just happened to work for REI. Between cups, he shared several helpful tips about the park that would prove useful as we hiked that day.

Walking away, I was quick to gather my assumptions about the leadership team that set the culture and behaviors in each of these organizations. To test my hypothesis, I called Dick’s Sporting Goods and spoke with the store manager. She stated she was aware of the incident yet showed no remorse for our inconvenience. She was, however, quick to defensively point out they weren’t all from her store. I asked what kind of messaging or training team members are given about how their behaviors reflect the brand and values of the organization regardless of where they are. She was clueless. No wonder the team showed up the way they did.

Meanwhile, back to REI, the behaviors demonstrated by this team member were consistent with the service and care we’d received while shopping in their stores or online. It all made sense. I didn’t have to speak with a manager or leader, because I knew what they were made of based on a set of interactions -one more timely than others.

We learned everything we needed to know about each company, their leadership and their culture all within a 12-hour period in a Hampton Inn in St. George, Utah. While our paths crossed with theirs the divergence of who they each were at their core was made distinct and clear. So was our decision for all our future sporting goods purchases.

How confident are you that your team members are living and walking out your culture in unexpected places and ways?

*I hesitated whether to share the names of the companies. After some consideration, I decided to remain completely transparent.

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