Sunday, November 02, 2008

Back To Normal?

Well last month is nearly a blur. Between becoming an aunt, moving the store, and studying for the US Bank Quiz Bowl competition I had virtually no time to blog. But now hopefully things will start to get back to normal.

My nephew Jack is doing great! And so far being an aunt is fun. I can spoil him a little, hang out with him, and so far still have not had to change his diaper.

The store move went well, as I said in my last post. And so far we've gotten rave reviews from everyone. For many existing customers we have actually moved closer to either their home or work, so getting to the store is even more convenient. Now that we're just off of the freeway we've started to see more people from outside Waukesha make their way to Neptune as well. And having so many other great retailers in our strip mall brings in much more foot traffic than we ever saw on Sunset Dr. There are still plenty of little things to finish up, but we're on our way.

People keep asking us why we moved the store. The answer is simple: It's a better location. We are closer to the freeway, which makes us more easily accessible. We have more retail in the area. The strip mall gets a much higher volume of traffic than we had in our Sunset location. And our cost per square foot is lower, so we have much more space than what we'd had before. Now we just have to fill that extra space - which we will. The side of town we are now on is closer to Brookfield, and is closer to businesses that we'd like to work with more, like the Majestic Theater, Blockbuster, the skate place across the way, and the dojo right in our mall. We even have a signing set up for the day after Christmas, when Sean McKeever stops by.

Quiz Bowl was quite the experience! We qualified to go to Las Vegas by scoring high on the two computer administered tests, competing first against over 2400 other teams, then against 500 teams. 33 US Bank teams traveled to Las Vegas to compete for $10,000 and bragging rights.

My team was called "Chairman Bob's Center, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner" because our branch manager is Bob and we always call him Chairman Bob like the guy from the Roundy's grocery stores; Center because that's our branche's name, and Winner Winner Chicken Dinner from the movie "21". The team of 5 consisted of myself and another banker and a financial specialist (banker with licenses to sell insurance and mutual funds) our customer service manager and branch manager. Our district and regional manager were there as well. We were one of only two teams from the entire state of Wisconsin to advance to the Las Vegas round. We had matching shirts - as you can see. With our team name abbreviated on the front and our bank ID's and a number of our choosing on the back.

The first night, Monday, teams arrived and then attended a welcome event that included "heavy hors d'oeuvres " an 2 drinks each. The 32nd and 33rd team competed to see which would make it into Tuesday's competition. Then we drew numbers to indicate our spots for the first round of quizing. Afterwards my bank team hung out a bit in the MGM Casino (we were staying in the MGM hotel) and went to bed.

Tuesday morning was the big day! We had the 9:30 am spot in the first round. The team met at 7:30 for our free continental breakfast and some pre-competition studying. (The guys in the photo are from my team, the two on the ends and I were the ones who went on stage for the competition and the guy in the middle was our alternate.) We dominated the first round, not even answering the lat 3 of 15 questions because as long as we didn't give a wrong answer we couldn't loose. The second round had 16 teams. We competed at 12:30 and this round was much closer. We won in the end when our competition gave a wrong answer and when our team had the chance to answer it correctly I nailed it. We took a lunch break and studied some more, preparing for the final 8 round, held in the "big room" where it was open to anyone to watch. We were nervous and stressed! We had some high ranking managers from the bank watching us, cheering us on, and now money was on the line. Making it to the final 8 guaranteed us at least $1,000 for the team, but of course we wanted more. When it came to knowing facts and numbers, my team had it down, but when it came to long-winded multple choice answers, the stress of the thing made those questions much harder to answer correctly and quickly. Of course our third round was nearly all those types of questions and somehow our opponent rang in before us 90% of the time, even though we were pounding on the buzzer. (note - EVERY team that sat at that table for the competition lost! slow buzzer maybe???) We tried to convince the opponent on the final question to do an all or nothing, but they had a comfortable lead and did not. We were out. Making it to the final 8 is nothing to be ashamed of, but we were a little disapointed that we didn't make it to the end. Our regional and district managers were quite proud of us, and took us to one of the MGM bars for a few rounds of drinks on them. Then we took a brief t.o. for personal time and then met up again for the final rounds of the competition. Again the teams that were at the table on the right side lost every time! After the final round where the winner was given their big check and trophy, they gave us a very nice reception with unlimited drinks and a cold seafood buffet and nice desert table. LOTS of calories on this trip! When that ended my team headed out to Fremont Street where we gambled and drowned our defeat in Miller Lite after Miller Lite. Finally at 3:30 am we made it back to MGM and collapsed.

Of course I can't sleep well in hotel beds, and so by 6:30 am I was awake. I tried and tried to fall back to sleep but gave up at 7:30 and took a shower. The team met up at 11 am and walked a bit of the strip. Then an hour or so later we had lunch at Wolfgang Puck's, paid for by our regional manager. We took our time there and then headed out to the airport. Wednesday night's arrival home was delayed, and became Thursday early AM. My head hit my own pillow at home around 1:30 am Thursday, and we were expected to be at work at our usual time Thursday. Needless to say we were all exhaused and today I'm finally feeling human again.

Craig and I will be at the store today. I'm going to take the Halloween window display down and put up a fall one (no, NOT Christmas just yet) and Craig is going to put up some shelves and try to get the back area organized. Kelly Ann will be working the floor, learning the new Comic Suite/RMS POS system. Then we'll probably go to the grocery store - another thing we've not even had time to do last month. And now that things have relaxed a bit I look forward to more blogging again !


Andy said...

Hey Neptune! Great job and I hope your new home 'store' will be twice as fun as the first.

B said...

Holy crap! Hope things settle down a bit for you guys (but sales increase 10 fold)!!