PROFILE

Art Suriano

Chief Executive Officer, The TSi Company

Art Suriano is a business development executive with expertise in retail sales consulting, business culture analysis, and process improvements. He is a forward-thinking business intelligence leader who knows what it takes to run a business and make it a success. Suriano has had an extremely successful and multi-faceted career path that has been anything but conventional. Suriano’s career has provided him skills as CEO, VP of Sales & Marketing, Patent Owner, Published Author, Award-Winning Composer/Arranger, and Public Speaker.

Suriano’s talent includes a keen eye for mining, analyzing, compiling, and presenting data that consistently boosts company value. His patented methodology known as LTraining® has put numerous businesses back on track fixing disconnect, improving performance, consistency, sales culture, sales, and customer satisfaction.

In addition, Suriano is the author of “The Ultimate Customer Experience…The Path to Victory for Any Business…Any Size…Any Time.” His leadership style is extremely creative, energetic, motivational, customer-focused, collaborative and ambitious.

Suriano began his career accepting work as a freelance composer. Soon he was scoring original compositions for television and radio for such programs as As The World Turns and Another World, and jingles/soundtracks for companies such as Subaru, Ford and more. From his success working for media directly as well as advertising agencies, Suriano soon figured out he could offer clients better and more effective creative campaigns for less than what they were paying. This led to founding his own company, PMI in the late 1980’s, which in time, became a full- service ad agency billing over $5 million annually, with local and regional clients.

From the success of his winning agency formula, a few years later, Suriano was offered an opportunity to offer his talent directly to broadcast companies such as WABC in New York and Kiss 108 in Boston. His assignment was helping underperforming clients get better results. Suriano would write and produce a new ad campaign that included custom commercials, and oftentimes, a custom jingle. It was during this period that his peers and clients coined him, “Mr. Fix It,” as every client he was handed began to see improvements in advertising results within 30 days.

Suriano’s passion for advertising continued, but as deregulation affected broadcast media and how they operated, he felt the need to move on and in 1994, founded the company he has today, The TSi Company. Starting out as an in-store marketing/advertising program for retailers, Suriano created an exciting program known as RadioPlusTM. Simply a better in-store music program, RadioPlusTM provided retailers with in-store commercials, complete with a custom client jingle, stations calls and personalities, making their in-store sound system appear as if it was the company’s own radio station. Soon, The TSi Company was signing local and regional retail clients who liked the idea of the added opportunities to build sales with customers through Suriano’s effective commercials and concepts.

By 1997, Suriano’s creative reputation was growing and clients were asking for his help in what was becoming a strong need: training. He began by creating and producing an in-store “before and after” hour radio program that quickly helped store associates learn about upcoming events, in-store promotions, customer service, and policies and procedures. Starting with Stern’s Department Stores, he was soon asked to expand the product to Macy’s, and other divisions after such as May Company divisions and other retail chains. Next, he turned his attention to part-time employees and created what eventually became his patented training method, LTraining®.

Today, LTraining® has been used by over 4 million trainees and consistently outperforms any other training method, scoring over 90% retention after a single session. LTraining® sessions have been created for every training topic necessary from orientation, POS and systems training, product training, sales training, customer service, and more.

As time progressed and Suriano recognized the strong results his training method was achieving, he realized that in order to get maximum impact for any business, he had to take it one step further. He began to look at the other areas of a business that, regardless of how effective his training was, would prevent a business from reaching its full potential.

Suriano met and spoke with clients and requested the opportunity to perform assessments, asking the right questions from top executives to the field and then comparing answers. Soon he found that every business was experiencing serious disconnect from the vision and objectives of the senior staff and what was actually taking place with lower level employees, especially the employees dealing with the customers. Soon he created his TSi 360TM, which became the footprint for helping clients increase sales, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction. Clients experienced over 15% increases in comparable store sales, saved millions of dollars that were being wasted, and saw increases in conversion of 7% annually. Moreover, clients saw long term growth quarter after quarter due to the improvements in performance and consistency.

Today, Suriano enjoys his role as Chief Executive Officer of The TSi Company which has expanded into a full-service company providing branding/marketing, training, communication skills and technology. He also provides his expertise as a consultant, teaching companies what they need to know to grow their business.

As the author of “The Ultimate Customer Experience”, Suriano follows the principles in his book that help clients achieve their goals. Furthermore, as a public speaker, Suriano has been asked to speak at various functions and events all over the world including the Intercoifure International event held in Australia.

Suriano is an accomplished composer/musician who won numerous awards through the decades for original scores for radio/television and corporate presentations. Today, he is under contract with two record labels in the UK as the songwriter/arranger for Circle of Faith, an up and coming Christian pop band.

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  • Posted on: 01/22/2020

    Is a ‘hassle cost’ justified in resolving customer service issues?

    I don't believe that many retailers add obstacles to get customers who have a complaint discouraged and to make them give up. Frankly, most of them don't have to because, in many retail chains, there is little or no customer service at all. Unfortunately, today we have several companies that are so big they no longer worry about the customer because they realize the customer has no choice but to use them. If I walk into Lowe's and have a terrible experience, I can indeed go to Home Depot, but if I have a worse experience at Home Depot, where else can I go? Back to Lowe's. The list goes on and on. Most businesses have an adopted one need, "pay me." That's really all they care about. And the service businesses like AT&T and Verizon are even worse. It's sad because many of these companies talk about the importance of customer service when, in reality, they have none. They don't train their people well, and I am convinced the bean counters have figured out they don't have to. As I said, they're so big that even when the customer is upset and threatens never to shop them again, they know it's only a matter of time before the customer will return because the customer has no choice. As technology gets better, we will eventually find dealing with non-humans will be a lot easier. The results will be better for the customer, but it's many years away.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2020

    Has BOPIS changed holiday selling?

    BOPIS is probably the smartest program retailers have come up with, as there are many advantages. It’s quick to see the benefits to the customer who can order online and then conveniently pick up in the store. But the retailer has many more advantages. Yes, it can get the customer to come into the store, which could lead to an opportunity of making more sales. Still it also allows the retailer to have less inventory at the store and only ship what a customer has purchased. Retailers who have both stores and online selling must continue to find ways of making the shopping experience the same for the customer whether they shop online or in-store, and BOPIS is a significant first step in doing just that.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    Is Bose doing the smart thing in closing its stores?

    It makes sense for Bose to close their stores because they have not been successful. But the reason is they never had a robust business model for their stores. Bose speakers are the best, and I’ve had them as well as their headphones for years. However, their stores were never exciting because they lacked pizazz. Frankly, they’re boring. There is only so much you can do with speakers. They would have been better, and still would with either a “store-within-a-store” concept in other retail chains or their own mall kiosks. Once you put on a pair of their headphones or sample one of their amazing audio units, there’s very little else one needs before making a decision. Having a store with so few products always looked a little strange. They should have partnered with other component companies and they would have done better. So closing the stores makes sense because it is too late for them to come up with a better business model that would make their stores stand out and create excitement. They should continue to find more retail partners to display their products. Luckily, they have a well-respected name, keen awareness, make great products, and even without their stores the company will be just fine.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    Best Buy CEO faces alleged misconduct probe

    This is a tough call. One’s personal life should be considered their own business as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job. However, it also depends on company policy. Some companies state that dating among employees is not allowed, while others have a completely open policy. In the case of Best Buy, if the company has policies stating rules about one’s personal life such as dating, etc. and if the employee accepts the position working for the company, then they are expected to abide by the rules. Whether Corie Barry broke those rules will have to be determined. I’m an old-fashioned guy who feels love is love, and no matter what a company may attempt to control, love will find its way around it. However, I also understand that management must set a good example, and if married people are having relationships behind their spouse’s back, then I can understand a company having a problem with that. We will have to see how this turns out, but based on the article and company policies I wouldn’t be surprised if Ms. Barry steps down.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2020

    Will Walmart become a fashion destination in 2020?

    Walmart has an opportunity to build its fashion brand because it has tremendous awareness both from its many stores and online. They can appeal to younger people who typically do not have much money to spend on clothes. So, with the right designs, marketing, and promotion, there is no doubt they can be successful. The problem with fashion is that it has a short time frame of success because styles and desires change rapidly. So the more significant challenge if they achieve success is to find ways of staying one step ahead with designs and competition. But Walmart has continued to do many things right and has remained successful. If they decide they want to win in the fashion world, I am confident they will find a way to make that happen.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2020

    Is Amazon more friend or foe for digital start-ups?

    There is no doubt that Amazon can make or break your business if you partner with them. It’s not right for everybody, and any company looking to partner with Amazon has got to look at all the positives and negatives before taking the chance. The best analogy I can think of is the talented musician who takes a job as a sideman in a band. He or she may be excellent and even more talented than the star of the show, but if you’re a sideman you take orders from the leader, typically the star. You do what you’re told and as long as the leader is happy, you remain in the band and get paid. But until you decide to quit and pursue your own career, you’ll never get the shot as a solo artist. Companies signing on with Amazon must follow their lead, obey the rules, and comply with everything Amazon demands or they’ll be out. And as long as they remain with Amazon unless they’re already established, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to build their brand independent of Amazon. Amazon is very smart with how they control all aspects of their business, including third-party vendors.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Does humanizing virtual assistants undermine consumer privacy?

    There is no doubt that technology continues to get better every day, and that includes virtual assistants, robots, and anything automated. We’re just not there yet, and it will take time before we arrive at a point where the technology is so amazing that we won’t know whether we're speaking with a human or a computer. Think back to 20 years ago and look at where we are now with how cell phones, computers, and tablets have all improved immensely. Now try to imagine 20 years from now. By then, I believe we will find that the in-store “robot” will be as common as a kiosk or self-checkout machine. So it’s just a matter of time. As for sharing personal information, we are all aware of how we are currently being tracked with everything we do, whether it be Google, Amazon, Facebook, or so many other sources. Yet most of us allow it and accept it as a part of life. It’s dangerous in some ways, but very few people are resisting. So in time, as we see improvement with the technology acting more human, we will become more comfortable interacting with it, and that includes sharing our most personal information.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Walmart U.S. CEO: Good retail jobs are much more than good pay

    There are many good points in the article. Pay is significant; being able to have a say in your schedule is equally important, but the one key element missing from the article that matters most to store-level employees is appreciation. Too often, the associates at the store level do not receive the “thanks” they deserve from upper management. Freeing them of tasks is excellent, and allowing them to spend more time on the floor with customers is beneficial to both the retail chain and the associate. However, customers can be demanding at times, and the hours with one standing on their feet a long time can be tedious. So making sure we let the associate know that we appreciate their service to the company and thanking them for their contribution will often go as far as higher pay. Lastly, when training store level people, we typically tell the employee everything we want them to do and not do but, most importantly, tell them “why.” Make them feel part of the team by sharing with them why it is essential for them to do what we are asking of them. That works every time!
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Kroger goes beyond meat and looks for impossible growth with private brand

    There is no doubt that interest in meatless products is growing. Kroger has an opportunity to capitalize on that with its own brand. How big the market becomes and how strong sales will be for Kroger is yet to be determined. Only time will tell, but I think Kroger is wise to give this a shot, and I expect it to be successful. I also see other grocery chains following their lead, especially if Kroger starts showing success with the venture. In time, I believe meatless products will become more popular. Many people today, especially the younger generations, have become very conscious of what we eat, what is healthy, and what is not. For years, there has always been debate about red meat, sausage, and pork as to whether it is good for you or not. Now with more and more meatless products being introduced, there has become an alternative. As the industry grows, it will attract more customers, and in time we may find that eating any meat will be a thing of the past.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Will ‘five pillars’ provide the foundation Bed Bath & Beyond needs to succeed?

    How many different strategies have we heard about with Bed Bath & Beyond that have all failed? The only fact in their favor this time is that now they have a new CEO and I’d like to see them succeed. However, the best analogy I can give with Bed Bath & Beyond is the boat has a leak, and rather than repair the hole, they buy more buckets. Bed Bath & Beyond has many advantages starting with the fact that nationally they have no direct competition. Yet year after year, they have managed to see comp-store sales decline without a clue on how to fix the problem. Walk into their stores and you’ll see a wide selection of products nicely arranged and usually at very competitive prices. Of course they have discounted themselves into the grave with coupons that never seem to expire even though the coupon says so. Then they tried a subscription program for $29 a year but continued the coupons, so why buy the subscription? But the big problem in-store is the lack of customer service. If I walk into Bed Bath & Beyond and find the product I want, okay…they’ll make a sale. But with all the SKUs and items missing at times, not to mention the questions a customer might have, one needs an associate to help. Good luck. Try and find one. Too many of their stores are so poorly represented by in-store associates I could pass out and fall on the floor and it would take them two weeks to find me. It’s not that they don’t hire enough associates, but they have done a horrible job of making assisting customers a priority. Staff are either heavily engaged in tasks or huddling somewhere in the store, having work-related or personal conversations. Meanwhile, the customers walk out without making the purchase and very unhappy. It’s not rocket science. They have the products, they have more than enough stores, and they have competitive prices. Build a robust in-store customer service program that engages and “wows” the customer, and they’ll win. Add the necessary technology, and now you’ll leave anyone else who attempts to compete with you in the dust.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2020

    Can casinos save the mall?

    I see this as a good idea, and it’s already working. The Wind Creek Casino (formerly The Sands) in Bethlehem, PA, is connected to an outlet mall, and both are doing very well. I wouldn’t want to see casinos at every mall, but the attractions at malls are vastly changing with new concepts almost every day. The new American Dream Mall in New Jersey features three different theme parks, and that too is bringing in customers. The secret is keeping the mall exciting and, at the same time, still presenting reasons for the customer to shop. What has been lost due to online shopping is the art of “browsing.” Today people do more of their browsing online and then decide to purchase the item online or go to the store to see the item before buying it. But when you can create an environment that will get customers in to walk around like a mall and combine that with an exciting shopping atmosphere, browsing kicks in, which leads to sales due to the impulse buying. So casinos, theme parks, restaurants, entertainment centers, and whatever else mall developers will think of will help the mall of the future survive and keep the customers coming.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2020

    Pier 1 to close up to 450 stores as it faces uncertain future

    Pier 1 Imports has been struggling for a long time, so this is nothing new. Today we have three types of retailers: 1.) new ones with new concepts 2.) retailers that have been around for years but are constantly adapting and fitting into the world of technology and online shopping and 3.) old retailers that have remained "old" with very little modernization into today's times. Pier 1 Imports is one of those retailers which has not focused on rebuilding their business for today's needs and finding a contemporary audience. Whether it be a Sears or some other old retail chain, these businesses are failing one-by-one for lack of attention to the customer of today, how that customer shops, and how to attract that customer to their brand. I don't think they'll turn the company around, and I expect them to go out of business. It's sad, but not every retailer will have a place in today's world. Yet, retail remains exciting and profitable for those who have made the leap into the world of today, with companies like Target and the many new players generating success because of their new ideas, concepts, and modern ways to shop.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2020

    Better-for-you foods produce healthier results for convenience stores

    Years ago, when the laws changed regarding tobacco sales, c-stores took a significant hit and they were smart to bounce back by investing in food services. Now they're continuing to get it right as many see that they have to offer healthy choices. That will continue to grow. I also see c-stores going forward to getting involved in the newest industry: cannabis products. It's a natural progression. Moreover, as the word "convenience" implies, these stores will continue to experiment with items they feel will make the consumer's life easy if they are able to purchase the items quickly. Lastly, I see the c-store size continuing to grow with more opportunities for customers to eat in-store and space to carry more products.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2020

    Which retailer will rule in 2020?

    Most of the retailers listed in the article should continue to do well in 2020. But when looking closely, Walmart and Target stand out for their ability, as the article said, in getting it right between in-store and digital. To me that’s the key, and that is what all retailers need to focus on going forward. Customers do not look at a retailer as two companies, in-store or online. They view them as one company that has stores and a website. Too often, retailers penalize customers for not being able to get the discount in-store and only online or the other way around. Promotional offers too often are different online than in-store. These are damaging practices, and they infuriate customers. So to me, the 2020 winners will be the retailers who will continue to find ways of making the shopping experience the same, whether it be in-store or online. Programs like BOPIS are a great start at giving the customer the option to use both online and in-store. These ideas will continue as retailers learn how to use both in-store and online opportunities that are good for sales as well as keeping the customer happy.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    I have said it before, and I am repeating it, I am not at all convinced that the consumer is all about how fast they can get their package. There are facts in this article that support that. If consumers were in such a rush to get their item, I believe the 70 percent number provided by MIT researchers would be less. Most of us are busy. Today we have become swamped. How many times has the package of what we ordered arrived only to sit for a couple of days before you have a chance to open it? Perhaps you’re on a business trip or working 14-hour days preparing for a conference. I think retailers have it all wrong, and it costs them dearly. They were better off when they provided the customer with a faster delivery when needed for a premium. The customer, if they needed the item ASAP, was happy to pay for it, and the rest of the customers didn’t mind waiting a couple of days for their package while the company saw higher profits. But somewhere we were led to believe that the customer doesn’t want to wait and the game of "how fast can we deliver it" began. Add to that Mark’s point about excessive waste with all the boxes, and we have created a real nightmare. Putting climate change aside, I, for one, live in a rural area, and we have to bring our recycling to the town dump. The boxes pile up and pile up, so I am definitely in favor of shipping consolidation. We need more accurate customer surveys confirming that most consumers are concerned with price, quality, and service and not as worried about how quickly they get it. Then we can begin to look at the methods to combine packages and deliveries, saving waste, time, and money. It would be a win-win for the consumer, the retailer, and our environment.

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