Develop a 200 word downsizing strategy to reduce the number of sales associates by 15% Appendix Strategic Staffing at Chern’s: A Case Study Chern’s Company History and Organization Siblings Ryan and Ann Chern founded Chern’s, an upscale men’s and women’s department store, 20 years ago after they graduated with their MBAs. The pair had planned to launch their own company for years, and refined their business model after each spent a great deal of time learning about the retail industry by working in different retail organizations. The product mix and high-quality products Chern’s sells made it rapidly successful, and the company developed a loyal following. The firm quickly expanded its product line and began opening additional locations 15 years ago. Ryan and Ann have turned their basic idea of providing customers with the best service, selection, quality, and value into a thriving business. The two are now co-presidents of Chern’s: Ryan serves as the company’s chief executive officer; Ann serves as the company’s chief operating officer. Chern’s pursues an aggressive growth strategy. Currently the company has 140 stores in 28 states on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Chern’s employs an average of 19,000 full- and part-time employees. Providing superior customer service has been the company’s main business strategy and has successfully differentiated it from its competitors. Although the company’s products are expensive, the high product quality and excellent customer service have made the company successful. Because customers’ tastes can differ from one store to the next, the company tries to be as decentralized as possible. Therefore, it gives its store managers a considerable amount of discretion in terms of how they run their stores. Likewise, each manager runs his or her own department as a small business and is rewarded according to the department’s and the store’s overall success. Because customer service lies at the heart of the company’s business strategy, it is a core part of the corporate culture of Chern’s. Ann and Ryan believe that customer service is the essence of selling and that because the firm’s sales associates are in direct contact with customers, they are the core drivers of the company’s performance. Both department managers and assistant department managers support the sales associates. Besides giving the sales staff their full support, the department managers at Chern’s are, in turn, supported by their store managers, assistant department managers, buyers, and merchandising managers. Figure A-1 illustrates these relationships. Figure A-1 The Sales Support Relationships among Chern’s Staff Members Core values are an essential part of the Chern’s brand and are the foundation of its culture. The company’s family ownership contributes to its desire to make every employee and customer feel valued and cared for. The firm is known for its strong and unique culture, which it feels is due to its belief that the best approach to business is to hire good people. As such, Chern’s tries to identify and select the right people, train them, and give them the tools and autonomy they need to succeed. Successful employees are rewarded with above-market base salaries and generous bonuses. The management philosophy at Chern’s is based on empowerment. Chern’s believes that by hiring well it can trust its employees to use their own judgment. Consequently, the firm gives them a considerable amount of freedom in terms of how they do their jobs. By striving to create a fair and positive environment and giving each employee the tools and autonomy he or she needs to succeed, the company feels it has created an environment in which its sales associates can truly excel. In fact, last year, 42 Chern’s sales associates sold at least $1,000,000 in merchandise-a company record. Because Chern’s has a strong reputation for customer service, quality, and selection, it enjoys very positive brand recognition among its targeted customers. It is consistently named one of the top three retailers in regional customer surveys and has been listed among Fortune magazine’s top 100 best companies to work for. Last year the company ranked number 72 on Fortune’s list, down from 44 the previous year. It was the second-highest retailer on the list, behind Nordstrom’s. It also ranked as having the best customer service among retailers for the past three years in customer surveys developed by the National Retail Federation. In addition to focusing on customer service, selection, quality, and value, Chern’s has invested heavily in information-technology tools to improve its inventory management and help its sales associates make efficient transactions with customers. The company recently implemented a Perpetual Inventory System to help its buyers react more quickly to the feedback given to them by its sales associates and to track inventory to quickly adjust each store’s product mix and clothing sizes available. The technology has helped the company increase its efficiency and lower its costs as well as add value for its customers.