Lessons for schools from a book retailer that is reversing the trend: Dymocks trumps Borders

In 2013 Australia’s 130 year old Dymocks bookstores are still standing. In fact, the iconic bookstore chain claims to have sold more books last year than ever before. Dymocks Managing Director, Steve Cox believes bookstores have a tremendous future.

“Book stores attract customers to shopping centres,” he says. “People will stop coming to shopping centres if all they get when they get there is 10 banks and twenty nail spas.”

Dymocks understand that it need to provide books in digital form, “In today’s markets, our franchise owners need to be able to provide their customers with whatever format book their customers want, through whichever channel.”

Can schools learn from Dymocks about reinvention and relevancy?

Firstly, here are the five tips for retailers, that has helped shape thinking at Dymocks (directly from the article):

Make the customer the centre of everything you do. “If you keep absolute focus on the customer and really strive to understand what they’re looking for, why they’re visiting the stores, why they’re not visiting the stores, then that helps you evolve the business,” says Cox.

Assess your strengths and opportunities. “Without a doubt, we’ve got a tremendous brand, tremendous heritage, we have locally-owned and operated stores that really understand their customers and we continue to focus in on that strength.”

Be relevant. “Eighteen months ago we used to send broad-brush emails to everybody on the database,” Cox says. “We’ve done a lot of work in the last six to eight months on customer data and understanding the lifecycle of our customers, understanding the purchase behaviours of our customers and being able to use that information to make sure that our stores have the relevant offer for that customer.”

Invest in your people. “We’ve got regional business managers and their goal in life is to help our stores achieve the best results that they can,” Cox said. “Every day I receive 50-60 pieces of customer feedback. “The thing that comes through loud and clear when I read that feedback every single morning is the people in those stores make that difference.”

Don’t focus on what you can’t change. “Control your controllables and don’t worry so much about the things that you can’t control, like the broader economic environment,” Cox says. For example, keep a cash-flow forecast up-to-date and envisage what the physical store environment can offer and “bring that to life.”

(Read the full article here)

If we translated the Dymocks experience into school, here are the five tips for educators

Make the student the centre of everything you do. Just like Dymocks, it’s not about how we’ve always ‘done school’, driven by the external forces, but more about how we need to ‘re-do school’, responding to the present and future needs to students.

Assess your strengths and opportunities. School is the pathway to the future, we have a captive audience everyday and an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the future generation. One of the greatest professional opportunities of all.

Be relevant. What school was like 15, 10, 5 and even 2 years ago is not relevant to our students today. If it resembles when you were at school, then there is a problem.

Invest in your people. Learn, unlearn and re-learn are key words in reinvention. There are new ways  and practices emerging and schools need to invest in these to equip the educators to meet the changing needs of learners.

Don’t focus on what you can’t change. It is tempting to get bogged down on the lack of policy change at the government level, or get frustrated that how high stakes testing has changed the landscape. In the short to medium term, these are things we cannot change, but we can learn to reinvent and work within the constraints.

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