Message From Sam Walton
We’ve just completed one very excellent Annual Wal-Mart Managers and Assistant Managers and their spouses meetings in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In my opinion, it would rank among the best, if not at the top of all our meetings—even those first ones 25 years ago that were held in a trailer on Bull Shoals Lake. Our objectives were slightly different then—communication, yes—merchandising of items, yes—but part of our objective in those days was recreational—fishing!
This great Wal-Mart Meeting of our 6,000 associates and spouses lasted almost two weeks—was tremendously well organized with about 110% of the focus on Wal-Mart and our competition … how we can serve our customers better—how we can all do better as servant-leaders—serving and listening to our associate-partners throughout our Company.
We received so many truly wonderful suggestions from all of you through our Grass Roots meetings held prior to Little Rock. Most of your ideas and suggestions will be considered and many will be adopted, either for your store or for the Company as a whole.
I’m so enthused about the attitude and morale of all of our associates. I don’t think it’s ever been better.
I just wish it had been possible for all of you to have shared and been present for our Little Rock sessions. However, you’ll get to hear much about our on-going Wal-Mart plans from our management associates who were present. Also, there will be video tapes and other material available to each of our stores and divisions. It was a great meeting, and one that was very worthwhile from a communicating and listening point of view.
So thanks to you all for your input, your interest, and all you did to help our Wal-Mart partnership improve in 1984-1985. There was a large measure of Wal-Mart fever present, and as many of ourcompetitors have found out, there’s just no known antidote for Wal-Mart fever.Let’s you and I keep it that way!
I’m in a quandary—you all did me in. As I’d suggested last year at Tan-Tar-A, if we achieved an 8% pre-tax net profit in 1983, I’d perform one of those “so-called” hulas on Wall Street at high noon! It’s now official. You did your part—achieving the highest net profit percentage in the history of our Company, and I was sure there was just no way this could be done! So now—even at the risk of being hauled off in a wagon with some of those other New York characters—I suppose I’ll have to arrange for my performance. I’m such a sorry dancer, as Helen can testify. However, since Dave Glass paid off in the General Office last year, and Jack Shewmaker made good on his bet with our wonderful associates at Marion, Illinois when they achieved an “impossible” sales number for 1983, I guess I’m committed. If any of you can figure an honorable way out for your Chairman—by all means—sound off! At this point I’m resigned to the inevitable.
Already those folks back East have a difficult time understanding our Wal-Mart Company and our Wal-Mart fever, and we have been slightly unorthodox in many of our approaches. Some have even accused us of practicing various forms of wizardry and rituals that border on witchcraft. So I’m sure if I have to do that hula up there, they may just consider it another unusual Wal-Mart rite … or will they?
You and Iknow that our Wal-Mart success lies in “people magic.” Our entire future lies in the hands of our wonderful associate-partners. We must put the interest of our associates first. As we’ve said so often, our corporate goals and best interest of our associate are identical.
Our Little Rock Meeting was our best—no question about it—and should prepare us well to have another great year in 1984. We’re getting off to an excellent start in February, with sales each week thus far consistently up 15 to 20% for comparable stores. Our overall sales plan for 1984 is based on a 10% sales increase in same stores.
Let’s youand I see what we can do in each store to totally please and spoil ourcustomers that shop with us. Let’s be the most friendly and the most helpful to our customers—satisfying them in every way—remembering that they are always right—regardless!
Well, my associate-partners, our future together has never appeared better to me. As long as we continue working together as a team—listening and involving all of our associates, and putting the interest of our people first—we will continue to be #1, with our customers believing and supporting us. As one of our good friends from Bunkie, Louisiana said in a letter last week— “Wal-Mart is ‘my’ store—the people are so wonderful, friendly, and helpful to me.” Let’s work hard so all our customers feel that way in 1984. We’ve asked that each of our stores hold associate meetings to zero in on this one objective within the next three weeks. I’m sure you’ll come up with some great customer pleasing suggestions and ideas.
Again, thanks so much for all you continue to do for our wonderful Wal-Mart Company.