Case Study: Sporting Goods Store

Case Study: Sporting Goods Store

Bill Thompson is the new manager of a retail sporting goods store in Vermont that is part of a national chain. Bill, who is 25 years old, has been working for the company for four years. Before his promotion, he was the assistant manager for two years at a company store in Delaware. Last week his boss, the regional manager, briefly introduced him to the employees.

The profit performance of this store is below average for its location, and Bill is looking forward to the challenge of improving profits. When he was an assistant manager, he was given mostly minor administrative duties and paperwork, so this assignment will be his first opportunity to show he can be an effective manager. The company sets the base salaries of the 20 employees who work in Bill’s store, but appraisal ratings by the store manager influence the size of an employee’s annual merit raise. These recommendations must be justified to the regional manager, especially if they are not consistent with individual and department sales. Bill can suspend or fire employees with the approval of his boss, but in practice it is difficult to do so unless the recommendation is supported by a strong case.


The headquarters office sets the store layout and most prices. However, the store manager can affect store performance to a limited extent. One way is to keep the cost of employees low is by making sure they are working efficiently and not taking excessive sick days. Another way is to ensure that employees are providing a high level of customer service so that customers will return to make other purchases rather than going to a different store next time. Customer service depends on knowing the products well, being polite, providing prompt service, and making sure that inventories of popular goods are maintained so that customers can find what they want. Pay is low for this type of retail selling job, turnover is high, and it takes a few months for a new employee to learn the merchandise well enough to be helpful to customers. Thus, it is also desirable to keep competent employees satisfied enough to stay with the company. Case Study: Sporting Goods Store

Although it is only his first week on the job, Bill believes that he has already discovered some of the problems at this store. Among the various departments in the store, the ski department has the highest potential profits during the winter, because skiing and snowboarding are popular winter sports in Vermont. At the current time the department’s sales are about average for company stores in the Northeast region, with potential for considerable improvement. On several occasions Bill noticed a line of customers waited to be served in the ski department, and he overheard some of them grumbling about how long it takes to get served. One customer said he was leaving to go to another store that didn’t make him “wait all day to have the privilege of spending hundreds of dollars on ski equipment.” Bill observed that Sally Jorgenson, the department manager, spends a lot of time socializing with her salespeople and with customers, including friends who drop in to visit and talk about ski conditions, resorts, fashions, equipment, racing, and so forth. Bill, who doesn’t ski, cannot understand what they find so interesting to talk about. He wonders why anybody in their right mind would want to spend a small fortune and risk permanent injury to hurtle down a mountain in blizzard conditions, and then stand in long lines and ride up a freezing chairlift just to do it all over again! Case Study: Sporting Goods Store


  1. How much of each type of power does Bill have at this time?
  2. What influence tactics could be used in this situation to influence Sally? Explain what you would actually say to Sally in the process of using each tactic.
  3. What should Bill do to improve store performance?

Essay #3: Briefly define the four proactive core tactics. Which proactive tactics are most likely to result in target commitment?  How can others use the proactive tactics to resist or modify influence attempts?  From the Internet identify a case study where proactive tactics have been used.

Essay #4: Briefly compare the following early contingency theories:

  1. Fiedler’s LPC contingency model
  2. Fiedler’s cognitive resource theory
  3. Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory

Case Study: Sporting Goods Store