iceBike* preview: Alf Dunbar on retail expertise and closing sales

Madison and Sportline recently announced that retail legend Alf Dunbar will speak at next month’s IceBike* trade show, 19th-21st February. Dunbar, hailed one of the top performance coaches within the customer service industry, has previously worked with John Lewis, Tesco and M&S. With over 12 years practical retail experience and 11 years as a top performance coach, he has coached thousands of people from a variety of retailing and business backgrounds. Here, Dunbar gives CI.N the nod towards what attendees can expect to gain from his seminars during the show…

In what ways can your YATD coaching programme help bike shops and dealers?

The You Are The Difference coaching programme will help the shops and the dealers to deliver a high level of all round customer service and to make the most from every customer interaction in terms of a delivering a positive impression and maximising sales.

What main topics will you be covering in your seminars at IceBike*, what can retailers at the show expect to gain from the talks?

The main topics will be how to – Greet, Approach and Close the sale with customers in a natural way and to look at the importance of a positive attitude and how it can impact on every day life both at work and outside work.

Can you give us a brief history of your career and how you have amassed your knowledge of sales expertise?

In the mid 1990s,I had a retail business struggling to survive. Faced with ever mounting debt and the real prospect of the loosing the business I set out to develop a new way forward in terms of customer service and leadership to turn the business around. The result was the creation of my unique customer service coaching programme You Are The Difference, now successfully used by a wide range of companies and organisations throughout the UK and over 30 countries in 26 languages around the world. I have over 12 years practical retail experience and 19 years experience as a top performance coach working with both large and small organisations.

Can you explain why it is important for dealers to attend your seminars, and why they will benefit?

The saying “ You can never learn less” is true! By attending my session dealers will be given a new a new fresh insight into how they can make the most from their business through delivering unique service/selling skills/techniques that ‘only work’. I always say this phrase as the programme techniques were developed on a shop floor and work in any customer service environment. As part of my session I will also cover some of the coaching tools we give to managers to help them coach and lead the YATD programme back in their stores.

With the glum headlines around retail in the UK right now, is it hard to inspire retailers to change their daily approach?

No, not really …right now there is a big opportunity for retailers who get the service right. When times are tough customers tend to want a bit more than just the product at a price. They want to be made to feel special and that’s where great service can make a real difference. Also If retailers keep doing the same old thing they will only get the same old results. Offering a new and exciting way to retailers to train, motivate and engage their staff is a big incentive.

Does the kind of advice you offer retailers change depending on their size (eg. one man band vs a shop with 40 staff)?

The You Are The Difference Customer Service Coaching Programme can be successfully used be individual retailers to those with 40 staff.  There is no real limit when it comes to the YATD programme. We can deliver it to organisations with tens of thousands of staff and have done so in the past. All that changes is the method of the delivery which we are very experienced in doing.

Can you tell us a bit about ‘the spiral’? 

The Spiral is the foundation of YATD. Everything we do is effected by our attitude and the Spiral helps people to recognise this and helps them to approach each day with a more positive, ‘can do’  outlook which helps them to feel more positive at work and with the customer on the shop floor.  Part of the programme is designed to also help people in their daily life outside work and the Spiral pays a big part on this.

If you could give one message to bike shops (or indeed other retailers) as a takeaway, what would it be?

People buy people first the product second, a customer may not remember what they bought or what it cost but they will usually remember how they were made to feel.

What would you say to bike shops mulling over whether to come to one of your talks at iceBike*?

If you want to help/coach your team to deliver brilliant service, to make the most from every customer interaction and improve your overall sales then attend the You Are The Difference 1 hour session. It will be educational, inspirational, motivational and fun!

Dunbar will host a couple of seminars each day focused on how to greet and approach customers, up-sell, close sales and give excellent till service.

Registration is now open for IceBike* 2019, dealers can register to attend by going to Here’s a few details on what you can expect from the show.

Hayley Everett

Multimedia Reporter

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