Industry Profile: Boards N Motion Salesperson Ben “Waffles” Riswold
23 Jul, 2009
Shay: So tell us about yourself?
Ben: Well I’m a 20-year-old part time student. I also work part time as well at Boards n’ Motion, and in my spare time, I enjoy snowboarding, eating pizza, candy and Mac and cheese, and occasionally hitting on girls? Can I say that?
Shay: What snowboard shop do you work for?
Ben: I work for a “core” snowboard shop called Boards n Motion, in Auburn, Ca, located in the foothills of northern California. BNM has been around for 2 decades now, and has been run by Wendy Woodward (you can see Wendy on K2 women’s alliance team).
Shay: How long have you worked there?
Ben: I have worked there for about three years; I remember I started on September 1st, 2007.
Shay: What is your job title?
Ben: My job title would be sales I guess.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Ben: I think that they wish I was in school more then I am now, but they know that I enjoy working, and they back me 100% on things I do.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Ben: Haha, it was a Sims 135 Spinner, with a pair of Lamar bindings, and an old pair of 32 boots. I got it at a swap meet for like 80 bucks total.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Ben: Oh man, this was a weird season for me, I ended up riding a ton of different boards, but the ones I rode the most would be the CAPiTA Indoor Survival, and the Academy Team.
Shay: What was your first job?
Ben: Oh man, I worked at a daycare.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Ben: A great day is waking up at 6 on a Wednesday pow day, meeting the friends at Depo Bay, grabbing some coffee and a toasted Pizza Bagel with cream cheese, then heading up to Sugar Bowl. Ripping pow till it gets beat, or I can’t stand up, then come home eat food then maybe go out and have some fun or keep it mellow and stay in.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Ben: Friends, music, Whittlake and Travis Parker, watching old snowboard videos, and new ones.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Ben: Like 6 or 7 years now?
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Ben: My guess would be 40+ I always mean to keep track, but after about like 10 I forget to keep track.
Shay: What is your role at Boards N’ Motion?
Ben: Sales, but my main goal is to ensure the best possible customer service, and then whatever else needs to get done, from inventories to dusting and cleaning.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Ben: Come into work, help people find the items they need, whether it’s grabbing a pair of shoes for them or getting them the right snowboard. If there are any projects get them done. I also straighten the racks, size shorts, and on most days eat a burrito for lunch.
Shay: How do you educate yourself on products?
Ben: I read the customer mags, I go through those and I will grab and read the “silent salesmen” sheets on the back of boards, I will also quiz my self or have some one quiz me on the boards like “name three true twin park boards” stuff like that. If I have any questions about the boards or any technical info, I ask my manager, boss or rep. It never hurts to ask questions, the more you know the better.
Shay: Is it important to establish relationships with customers?
Ben: Yes. When you establish customer relations, it makes that customer feel more comfortable, and more like you actually care about them, and not just their money. I have few customers that come in every now and then, and its nice to see them, we catch up on what’s been going on in their life, and they feel more at home. Does that make any sense?
Shay: Working in a shop, you get to meet a lot of people…who is your favorite person you have met?
Ben: Well I would have to say my co-workers, from the late great Papa Dunn (the manager that was there when I first started working) to Dakota and Wendy that are holding it down now, they have taught me everything. I would also have to say our Capita guy Chris Wilmoth, wilgoth, cab 5 or whatever you want to call him. He’s a rad dude, and I have spent some fun times with him. My friend, Jason Watson down at Milo Sport Layfaette. Damn, there are too many people to mention now that I think of it.
Shay: What do you think makes a good salesperson?
Ben: A good salesmen has to be honest and have a passion for what he or she is selling, people can see bullshit. I also feel you should be personable, not only getting along with people, but also you have to not be afraid to approach people who come into the shop. And also knowledge for what you’re selling, and be motivated to learn.
Shay: Is it important to have first hand experience with the products you sell?
Ben: Yes. Because the more you know how to work the boot or binding, the better, and if you can tell a customer how that board or that boot actually felt when you rode it is the best.
Shay: What is your favorite product that Boards N Motion sells?
Ben: Oh too many, this last year it was Magical GO GO wax, it was easy on and easy to scape. And it sells like candy. Who doesn’t like candy?
Shay: Do you see any bias by salespeople to sell only certain brands?
Ben: Yes, I have seen/ do see it. We all have companies that we like and they we tend to go to, a safety board or company if you will, but when your selling a board its not about you, its what’s the best fit for the customer.
Shay: During these economic times, do you see anything that shops could do to improve sales?
Ben: Cut the fat, order only what you need to order, and order the bangers.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at Boards N Motion?
Ben: Oh man… last summer we closed the shop for a day and all went white water rafting, and that was fun. Pulling pranks in the shop are always fun, and the other day some chick pissed in our dressing room trashcan.
Shay: How is working for Boards N Motion (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Ben: It’s a damn good job. It can be mellow working sometimes, if its slow or whatever in the summer. But there are job perks, you get to see the new stuff before it comes out and even ride it. Every now and then you might get some new clothes or shoes or whatever. Some times you might get a new board or bindings. My favorite is getting to see and ride the new boards before they come out.
Shay: What education/experience did you have before getting the job?
Ben: Oh man, I was only in high school when I got started, I was young.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Ben: New clothes, boards, I love getting new Coal beanies, but the best I would have to say is when you give feed back on a product, and they actually do it. Bettering snowboarding I guess?
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Ben: Cleaning piss out of a trashcan, and fighting termites.
Shay: Prior to Boards N Motion, what other shops/jobs have you worked at?
Ben: No shops, just the day care.
Shay: Since you started working in shops, what’s been the best technology advance in snowboarding?
Ben: Camber haha. Reverse camber is good too, but they are bringing that shit back.
Shay: How often do you try out the products you sell?
Ben: During demo days, where we get to go out and ride the products, or when they drop off boards at the shop to ride.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Ben: Winter: September to march. December for sure.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Ben: I feel experience; you learn things without all the bullshit of sitting in a classroom. A teacher can give you tips on how to sell, but can’t show you like actually going there and doing it. But I do feel you need some education and have some grasp as to how the business side works.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in a snowboard shop?
Ben: Lurk around, but don’t be annoying, pop in every now and then, hang out get to know the owner and the people that work there, and help out if you can, but don’t stay too long.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Ben: Do it because you love it. Snowboarding’s fun, and people forget that sometimes, they get mixed up in trends or trying to land new tricks, and lose sight of what its all about. I dunno, I guess check out my blog too.
*Pictures courtesy of Ben “Waffles” Riswold