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John Mansfield: “Curbside pickup stands out as an easy first example”

Curbside pickup stands out as an easy first example. National retailers like WalMart and Target were already experimenting with this concept, but it is clearly taking hold across retailers of all shapes and sizes. And with customers being unable or concerned about venturing inside a physical store, using digital channels, particularly social media, to stay […]

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Curbside pickup stands out as an easy first example. National retailers like WalMart and Target were already experimenting with this concept, but it is clearly taking hold across retailers of all shapes and sizes. And with customers being unable or concerned about venturing inside a physical store, using digital channels, particularly social media, to stay engaged by offering special digital events has been seen more and more. For smaller and boutique retailers, we have seen a return to the scheduling of individual appointments, both in person and virtually. Another example is found in diversification both in product offering and service mechanisms, for Chemical Guys we have started expanding into personal and home care products. Panera on the other hand is using their access to produce, dairy and grains to offer grocery delivery. What all of these examples have in common is retailers fully embracing an Omnichannel or Inter-Connected Retail model. Pandemic or not, the idea of blending the digital and physical realms into one seamless customer experience is the only way to survive. The retailers already fully invested in this strategy pre-pandemic are poised to exit stronger than when it started.


As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Mansfield. He has spent the past 20 years working with a number of innovative consumer brands. He is currently the Chief Revenue Officer of Chemical Guys, a leading automotive lifestyle brand specializing in car care products where he is responsible for the overall revenue and market share growth strategies for the company.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you so much for reaching out, I am stoked to be part of the series! My career started in high school, working at the first retail store Oakley ever opened. I didn’t know it at the time, but this part-time job would end up shaping my life by opening my eyes to the power of a brand driven by culture and passion. I spent the next 15 years with Oakley growing within the company, but always connected to retail. After I left Oakley the desire to find a brand that could ignite the same type of passion was always inside me. Luckily I connected with the team at Chemical Guys and I knew from my first step in the door I had found that place.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

We are living through it right now, trying to navigate the reality of a global pandemic. At Chemical Guys and Detail Garage our business spans manufacturing, brand, eCommerce, retail and franchising and our reality has been a non-stop process forecasting, re-forecasting and contingency planning. From the beginning we have tried to figure out how to keep our employees safe while also keeping them employed, how to help keep our franchisees in business, how to adapt to global supply chain limitations, and how to use our resources to help society at large. Looking back, we have been extremely fortunate and I give full credit to the diversification in our business model as envisioned by our founders David Knotek and Paul Schneider, and to the heroic efforts of individuals on our team.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

When I was working as a Tech Rep traveling to retailers across the country, I was so fired up and wanted everyone to love the Oakley brand as much as I did. One day making my rounds I came across a sales associate that was a big fan of another brand. I had no problem informing them of all the great things Oakley had to offer, and, all the not so great things about the brand they preferred. Eventually I left the store and continued on my way not thinking anything about the visit. Unbeknownst to me the sales associate I spoke with called their District Manager to report my less than favorable comments about another brand, which then made it to the Regional Vice President, and eventually to the SVP of Stores who called my boss’ boss’ boss to share some heated feedback. The phone call I received that night opened my eyes to the fact that passion is only really beneficial when it comes from a place of positivity. That is a lesson I have carried with me ever since.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

It is crazy to think about the number of things we are working on at Chemical Guys, but one of the most exciting is our retail and franchise concept Detail Garage. Our first Detail Garage location opened in 2008 and today we have over 60 locations. Because of our shared passion for shine it has become a family, and I am incredibly proud that we were able to step up and support our family during the global pandemic. The first step we took was to waive all franchise fees starting in March and to pause all invoices to try and help provide financial relief to the franchisee community. We also contacted local and state governments to better understand the various “Shelter-in-Place” and “Safer-at-Home” orders to help our franchisees remain open in some capacity. Thankfully the overwhelming majority of our Detail Garage locations were able to remain open, and even more incredible, these stores have been reporting record sales ever since.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Honestly, I can’t say that I am the best authority in this area as I still work at maintaining balance. That said, one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is that individual success is always tied to team effort. Earlier in my career I wanted to do everything myself. Some of that was tied to the passion for the work, but fear of giving up control and concerns about the job would get done the way I wanted were definitely at play. Over time I have learned building a team of people that you trust makes life so much easier, and even fulfilling, especially when you can watch others do amazing things.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have benefitted from the influence of so many people throughout my life. Growing up my mom, stepfather, aunt and uncle each helped shape the moral fabric and work ethic that set me on a solid path. Professionally, I have had amazing mentors but one in particular stands out. Dan Nowlin was the SVP of Stores I referenced earlier and he was an evangelist for the credo that “People work for People”. It is a standard I try to live up to everyday. Another major influence in life is my wife, Johnnie. We met as co-workers, fell in love and got married. Her support and influence have helped me achieve a level of self-confidence that I likely would never have found on my own.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Being part of companies with specialized expertise has offered the ability to be part of giving back in meaningful ways. At Oakley, we were part of charitable organization “OneSight” that to this day uses the capabilities of Oakley and parent company Luxottica to bring eye exams and eyeglasses to the over 1 billion people who lack access to vision care. At Chemical Guys we were able to shift manufacturing to bring an FDA registered hand soap and two varieties of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the market within one month of the national emergency declaration. All of the initial production runs were donated to first responders and health care professionals, and we are still offering donations for these products to any groups that need assistance.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share five examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Curbside pickup stands out as an easy first example. National retailers like WalMart and Target were already experimenting with this concept, but it is clearly taking hold across retailers of all shapes and sizes. And with customers being unable or concerned about venturing inside a physical store, using digital channels, particularly social media, to stay engaged by offering special digital events has been seen more and more. For smaller and boutique retailers, we have seen a return to the scheduling of individual appointments, both in person and virtually. Another example is found in diversification both in product offering and service mechanisms, for Chemical Guys we have started expanding into personal and home care products. Panera on the other hand is using their access to produce, dairy and grains to offer grocery delivery. What all of these examples have in common is retailers fully embracing an Omnichannel or Inter-Connected Retail model. Pandemic or not, the idea of blending the digital and physical realms into one seamless customer experience is the only way to survive. The retailers already fully invested in this strategy pre-pandemic are poised to exit stronger than when it started.

In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?

There is no doubt in my mind there will always be a place for physical retail. But I do believe the traditional mall as we knew it at the turn of this century will not exist at the turn of the next century. There are great examples of developers who have created mixed-use venues integrating retail, restaurant, residence and workplace as a lifestyle eco-system. Two of my personal favorite examples of this concept are The Domain in Austin, TX and Brickell City Centre in Miami, FL.

The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

The first point that stands out to me is that all three retailers in this question have not only embraced, but have also been trailblazers of Omnichannel and Experiential retail. Lululemon has taken this a step further to connect with their customers to build a community through incredible engagement on social media along with offering classes and events. The goal with this kind of experience and engagement in retail is to elevate the interaction with customers from transactional to personal in a way that an online marketplace could never replicate. Also since profitability is a key component of this question, I have to call out the importance of systems, such as ERP or eCommerce platforms. Too often companies will look for either the cheapest solution, or by contrast, end up with an overpowered behemoth they heard a competitor was using. Because profitability will always be tied to having the right product, in the right place, at the right time, retailers need to take the time and even bring in outside help to land on systems that are best equipped to meet current needs, but also have room to grow.

Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Companies need to be proactive and vigilant, especially in the brand and manufacturing space. If your company does not have a strong Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy in place…get on it. If your company does not have a web scraping/brand monitoring service…get on it. If your company has not yet engaged a firm that specializes in Global Intellectual Property…get on it. The message here is that business leaders cannot sit back and wait for brand integrity and value to be worn away by grey and black market actors that have become incredibly brazen over the past few years.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

When I mentioned the people that helped me along the way, one of those was my stepfather. He and my mom got married when I was 12, prior to that she raised me by herself. I was incredibly lucky as my mom was active in local education and politics, even being elected to the school board. This helped expose me to a number of business leaders and politicians at a young age. Because we know statistically one of the greatest predictors of future success for a child is whether or not they grow up in a single or two parent household, I would love to see a group come together that specializes in making connections between children living in single parent households and the same kind of leaders that my mom helped me connect with.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Please check out Chemical Guys and Detail Garage online and on Instagram. You can find me on LinkedIn or Instagram @jcbmans

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


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