>Mary Queen of Shops


Mary Portas with donated clothes
Mary Portas – Queen of Shops

Did anyone see this programme tonight on channel 4 – about Fonehouse? Very interesting in terms of servant leadership (I’m involved with a group of people looking at this at the moment). Mr H was typical blokey know-it-all franchisee of phone shop, who took some persuading to change his ways. His ways – was to be the expert behind the counter doing the big sell (he thought he was the “best”) telling people what they wanted.

Mary Portas tries to make changes to the tecky blokey phone shops. She introduces comfort and social areas to the shops, has real phones out for people to try and talk to one another about. The salespeople were there “to be of help if there’s anything …” rather than the hard sell. The effect of the change was to empower the shopper, and to change the relationship of the sales staff, so that they were really “serving” – as servant leaders – listening instead of talking.

Did Mary Portas turn the tables?!

In the end Mr H was converted. It’s going to be worth looking at whether other phone shops become person centred, rather than phone centred – and whether the staff really serve us – or themselves and their commission.

You get some idea of the changes here; with owner Clive writing about the changes to the shop at Angel.

2 thoughts on “>Mary Queen of Shops”

  1. >Instantly my mind crosses over to how this relates to churches (perhaps your intention?). Much more listening required there, and much less hard sell. People centred. This happens well in some places and there is a lot of experimentation going on – a good thing.


  2. >Hi Karen. I think this relates to various areas of life – politics, education and church. I think we've become suspicious of the expert people behind the counter/lectern/altar – until they prove themselves trustworthy. It's good to hear that you think we are organising ourselves to listen more.


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