Master Class 4 – Walmart & Sam Walton’s Strategies & Tactics for Business Success in Tough Economic Times©

Michael Bergdahl chatting with Master Class attendees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Michael Bergdahl chatting with Master Class attendees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Did you know that when he died, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was the world’s richest man? Interestingly, when he started his business he faced adversity that almost led to his failure. You see, he had an economic crisis when bankers refused to lend him money, and some of his product suppliers created a credit crisis for him when they forced him to agree to pay cash on delivery before they would ship products to his stores. It seemed everyone lacked confidence in his retail business strategy at a time when he needed to count on their support the most.

For Sam Walton to succeed in those early and difficult days, it took a singularity of focus, passionate leadership, and a never say die attitude! He had to overcome his own fear of failure and refocus himself on what to do to succeed. In the end he overcame all of those early obstacles, his own fears, and the cynicism of all of those early naysayers, who incorrectly predicted his demise. Sam Walton had the last laugh as he grew his business from a single store to become the world’s largest company. Along the way he also became the world’s richest man!

This Master Class, Walmart/Sam Walton’s Strategies & Tactics for Business Success in Tough Economic Times©, is based on Michael Bergdahl’s first hand experiences working at the Walmart headquarters directly with Sam Walton. Bergdahl documented what he learned at Walmart in his book, What I learned from Sam Walton: How to Compete & Thrive in a Walmart World. Translated versions of his books are available in Russian, Thai, Indonesian, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

In this class Bergdahl explains “The Walmart Way” and the “Sam Walton Way” through a discussion of the key strategies and tactics utilized by Sam Walton and Walmart. Following the acronym “P.O.C.K.E.T.S.”, which stands for Price, Operations, Culture, Key Item Promotion, Expenses, Talent and Service – which also happen to be the 7 strategic areas of Walmart’s retail operations –  he explains the strategies, tactics, and best practices that have made Walmart the world’s largest company. Most importantly, Bergdahl provides ideas and tools from “The Walmart & Sam Walton Way” that attendees can take away and use immediately  to make their own businesses even more successful.


8:30 am to 9:00 am REGISTRATION
9:00 am to 11:00 am – Session 1: Price & Operations Strategies & Tactics for Business Success in Tough Economic Times©
  • What Businesses can learn from “The Walmart & Sam Walton Way”
  • Then: How Sam Walton almost failed in 1962; Now: Tough economic times even for Walmart
  • P.O.C.K.E.T.S. niche strategy * Strategies of the world’s largest company * Tactics of the world’s richest man
  • Best practice to compete, survive, and thrive in tough economic times
  • As you learn about Walmart, you’ll gather tools you can use to help you to compete
Price Strategy
  • Why is pricing strategy so important in today’s economy?
  • Sam Walton’s discounting principle* Every day low prices * Price rollbacks * Special buy merchandise * Predatory pricing
  • Low price strategy driven by high volume inventory turnover * Chinese & Asian manufacturing for  low price profitability
  • Shopping cart comparisons * Walmart passes expense savings along to the customer via lower prices
  • Pricing tools for you
Operations Strategy
  • What lessons can you learn from Walmart’s operations to help you compete in tough economic times?
  • Big facts behind the Walmart success story * The history of Walmart * Global presence
  • Types/Number of Stores and Distribution Centers * Supply Chain Driven Company, in-stock, RFID
  • Technology/Cross Docking/Spoke and Hub Distribution/No Traditional Warehouses
  • Benchmarking Best Practices * Operational Excellence Standards – High expectations are the key to everything
  • Continuous Learning/Continuous Improvement/Flow Charting Processes
  • Operations Tools for You * Questions & Answers
11:00 am to 11:30 am – TEA BREAK
11:30 am to 1:00 pm Session 2: Culture Strategies & Tactics for Business Success in Tough Economic Times©
Culture Strategy
  • Why your people can make the difference when the going gets tough * Profit Sharing drives the Walmart engine
  • Sam Walton was a servant leader * The Sam Walton Way is The Walmart Way * Sam Walton’s 10 Rules &  3 Values
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit/Work Ethic * Empowering people by pushing decision making downward
  • Embraced Change/Risk-taking * Reinforce company standards using folklore and storytelling
  • Culture tools for you * Questions & Answers
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm – Lunch
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm – Session 3: KIP/ Product & Expense Strategies & Tactics for Business Success in Tough Economic Times©
Key Item Promotion / Product Strategy
  • Why are merchant skills and supplier partnerships so important? * Everyone is a merchant regardless of job function
  • Volume Producing Item program to reinforce merchant skills * Execution of product promotions
  • Outside-in approach to selecting products and services * Vendor Partnerships – Vendorville
  • 3 types of Walmart Suppliers * Negotiating to supply Wal-Mart * Automated Replenishment – just-in-time Inventory
  • Store Wars – Walmart battles retailers horizontally and suppliers vertically * Innovation versus imitation
  • Key item promotion * Product tools for you
Expense Strategy
  • Why managing expenses can make or break you * Walmart low profitability model
  • Low prices are a result of constantly reducing costs – passing savings along to customers
  • Suppliers pressured to improve efficiency, lower costs * Management accountability – sales/payroll/shrinkage
  • Culturally engrained expense control teaches employees to monitor expenditures
  • As sales volume rises, expense percentage continuously falls * falling sales volume exposes weak expense structure
  • Work schedules adjusted daily to reflect sales volume shortfalls * Executives lead expense control by example
  • Customer greeters are at every front door to greet and monitor theft
  • Expense Tools for You * Questions & Answers
3:30 pm to 4:00 pm TEA BREAK
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm Session 4 –  Talent & Service Strategies & Tactics for Business Success in Tough Economic Times©
Talent Strategy
  • How do you increase productivity when business is difficult to come by?
  • Setting aggressive goals with input from the entire team
  • Average people and above average performance * Hire for attitude and teach the necessary skills
  • Accentuate the positive/Eliminate the negative * Dealing with non-performers
  • Empathetic versus sympathetic leadership * Promotion from within, before people are ready
  • Cross-functional movement of people * Hire the best, provide the best training and best place to work
  • 11 Core leadership competencies * talent tools for you
Service Strategy
  • Why serving your customers is more important than ever in tough economic times.
  • One stop shopping – replicate the “High Street” under one roof
  • The customer is the boss * One agenda – the customer * Drop everything to serve customers
  • 10 foot rule/Sundown Rule * Internal customer service/External customer service
  • Customer segmentation strategy * Saturday morning meetings/Walmart cheer
  • Service desk in the front of store – 100% product guarantee/Walmart museum
  • Service tools for you * Questions & Answers

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