Jeanne Beker, one of the world's leading fashion authorities, Sabrina Geremia, Head of Google Canada, and Lolita Guerrera, VP of RBC Retail, are the experts in this episode. They offer powerful advice to co-founder Francois Theriault on how to reposition Surmesur, an innovative, personality led tech-enabled made-to-measure men's wear retail chain, to compete in a post COVID economy. Two of their ideas Francois acts upon immediately, a testament to the power of bringing entrepreneurs together with thought leaders to chart a profitable path forward.
Francois and his brother Vincent understand customer service better than most. Instead of selling a made to measure suit, they train their staff to sell into a moment that someone wants to own. Walking down the aisle, presenting in a boardroom, looking sharp for that first date. They combine this insight, with a personality led shopping experience, and state of the art technology. The result is fabulous, fitted, and affordable made to measure fashion for men and a loyal customer base. Their skills as entrepreneurs lead them from one store in Quebec City to expansion across Canada and into the United States and Mexico. Then COVID-19 hits.
Weddings are cancelled, presentations are now done from the neck up over Zoom, and stores are closed. In classic entrepreneurial fashion, the Theriault brothers start selling masks to generate much-needed cash flow to invest in the reinvention of their business.
Small Business Matters series, presented by RBC.
Francois finds inspiration in Asia (02:08)
Realizing that a career in finance is not for him, Francois, shortly after graduating, spends a year travelling Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, India and China. Inspired by the suit shops in China and Thailand, where custom-fit suits are the fraction of a cost of those in Canada, Francois and his brother decide to go into business.
A better way to buy suits - a perfect fit (03:01)
The service experience gained while working in restaurants, combined with the idea of custom-fit suits, the Thériault brothers begin their entrepreneurial journey, not just selling suit but selling experiences. Getting to truly know their customers and building relationships, sets them on the road to success. With 10 stores across Canada, the United States and Mexico, they build a business founded on a culture of empowerment and with staff with personality.
A new way of doing business (06:20)
COVID-19 upends their business. Face-to-face relationships are no longer possible and their customer's requirements have changed too. From suits to sneakers, causal wear now dominates, but will this be a viable option for Surmesur? Realizing they need to reinvent themselves, for Francois, digital stands out as a key factor for success.
Operating in a post COVID economy (14:18)
Jeanne Beker http://www.jeannebeker.com/about/, Style Editor at TSC and Creative Director, believes Surmesur can broaden their appeal by offering tailored suits for woman. Sabrina Geremia, VP & Country Director at Google, Canada believes Francois “has the opportunity to treat his website as a flagship store” and Lolita Guerrera, VP, Commercial Markets, Retail, RBC, points out Surmesurs’ resilience in pivoting from suits to masks.
Tonys final thoughts (25:27)
Francois has a burning desire to succeed and one word describes his life and his business: “transformation”. Passionate about quality and to truly understand their customers moments that matter, Surmesur designs outfits that are both an expression and a vessel to take them there. “There's no doubt in my mind, you will continue to transform and not just as a business, but transforming the customer's employees that you feel so honoured to serve.”
Links and References
François Thériault, Co-Founder at Surmesur - https://www.linkedin.com/in/francois-theriault-8280b227/
Jeanne Beker, Style Editor at TSC , Author, Keynote Speaker, Host, Freelance Journalist, Creative Director - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanne-beker-109a501b/
Sabrina Geremia, VP & Country Director at Google, Canada - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrina-geremia-028644/
Digital Main Street - https://digitalmainstreet.ca
ShopHERE program - https://digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere/
Helping Small Business - https://canada.googleblog.com/2020/05/helping-50000-canadian-small-businesses.html
Lolita Guerrera, VP, Commercial Markets, Retail, RBC LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/lolita-guerrera-mba-2885a014/
RBC Business page – https://www.rbcroyalbank.com/business/index.html
RBC COVID-19 Financial Relief page - https://www.rbc.com/covid-19/business.html
To get specialized support for your business, visit https://www.rbcroyalbank.com/business/advice/industry-expertise.html
Future Launch - https://www.rbc.com/dms/enterprise/futurelaunch/index.html
Follow Tony Chapman
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