International Women's Day

International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day this year, we decided to have a chat with Steph, one of our top performing store managers, about her career within Crown and how she finds working in a predominately male dominated industry.

Steph has worked with Crown since 1995 and in the last year has opened and managed one of our newest stores in Burnley, and even won New Store of the Year at our 2020 (virtual) conference!

Here are some of the questions and answers from our chat with Steph.

What challenges did you face opening a new store? Especially with Covid-19?

One of the biggest challenges of opening a new store is having no existing customers, you really have to build a customer base from scratch which can be a struggle. Covid-19 has made that harder than what it would be in normal circumstances for a number of reasons. Customers are hesitant to shop indoors and we cannot visit potential new customers outside of the store which we have would previously done.

On the flip side to this, COVID-19 has helped to build our retail customer database, as we have seen more customers coming in to shop for their DIY projects. When everyone decided to decorate their house during lockdown, customers found us online and came in, which may have not happened if it wasn’t for COVID (every cloud I guess!)

Another challenge of opening a new store is gauging competitor pricing in smaller local merchants who maybe don’t advertise as much as bigger brands, which can make it difficult to know how to compete. As well as this, learning the buyers’ market of a new area can be a significant challenge, i.e. what products are likely to sell in that area. We have to really keep a focus on our stock and really work out what stock is more likely to sell and what perhaps isn’t right for that particular area.

How do you find running a store as a female in a predominately male dominated environment/industry? What are the challenges you face?

Luckily, I have not found many problems with being a female in store. Sometimes it can help as a male dominated environment can be testosterone heavy and sometimes females are spoken to in more of a quiet manner.

From my experience in this industry, as long as you have the correct knowledge, you have the respect. There are always those who question if you have the correct knowledge for the trade, however, once respect is earned, they treat a female just as they would a male in store which is very positive.

In this industry/environment, knowledge and experience behind the counter is more important than what gender you are.

Can you share a bit about your experience whilst working at Crown? Why did you want to work for us?

I have worked for Crown since 1995 and a lot has changed behind the counter since then

I started when I was 18 years old and definitely faced the challenge of gaining the trust of many trade decorators, both existing and new customers.

Being so young at the time, this was not a straightforward process. As a young inexperienced female I was certainly put to the test, the customers would sometimes challenge me for their own entertainment, and on occasion would make the odd sexist remark. However, over time, things have obviously changed and times have adapted. Through self-training, the help of colleagues and listening to decorators I gained the basics to assist with the decorators requests. Through hard work and really listening to the customers, I’ve managed to gain the complete trust of my customers. 26 years later and I’m still assisting the same customers with queries and now not one sexist comment is made!

This knowledge has also helped me with our ever expanding retail customer base. Experience and knowledge is key as sometimes they need more advice than our professional decorators. So, being able to give them the best customer service to get everything they need for their DIY job is important and through my knowledge and experience, I’ve gained their trust as well.

Why did I want to work for Crown.. Truth is, as the saying goes ‘its not just paint, its personal.’ If you were from Darwen, you worked at Crown with all your family and friends. Crown was well known for looking after its employees and for being one big