As vaccines continue to roll out and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more feasible, well-known duty free executive Leo Dotolo has opened a new company called Lion’s Head Consultants based in South Florida.
Dotolo decided to offer his consulting services after being in contact with many of his previous clients, retailers and suppliers, and discovered there was a need in the market for the services he can provide.
With a background that includes nearly 10 years with leading fragrance distribution company Essence Corp overseeing much of its North American business, and more than seven years with Coty in a position that covered stores in airports, cruise ships, downtown and borders, Dotolo brings a broad range of knowledge and expertise to his new endeavor.
Prior to his association with Essence Corp and Coty, he worked for Dufry and Greyhound Leisure Services in airport and border retail operations, management and marketing. AT GLSI, Dotolo was responsible for merchandising 18 duty free stores at Miami International Airport and implementing customer training for a staff of more than 100.
At Dufry, he held a variety of operational positions from divisional merchandise manager in Monterrey, Mexico, to general manager at Dufry airport concessions in Philadelphia and Houston.
“I started in sales when I was with Coty, and an opportunity arose where I could do some training, and the same thing when I went to Essence. As time went on, my role started changing and I became more of the trainer for the North American stores.
“And I found that I really loved this area. Working with the sales staff, working with the suppliers, introducing new products to the sales staff and providing them with the tools and training to give them the ability to sell. That is what I really enjoyed the most,” Dotolo tells TMI.
Once business starts to come back, Dotolo believes many companies are going to have to discover what the “new normal” will be.
“With companies reopening, I can help them focus on customer service and their sales staff,” he says.
Since many companies may have let training staff go during the long months of the shut down, quite a few may opt to use sub-contractors to meet this need when they open again.
“Training, unfortunately, is one of the first things to go, especially since many suppliers stopped introducing new products during the pandemic. And since so many stores were closed, retailers didn’t have a need to train. So trainers were let go.
“I think that now, as companies are opening again, they don’t necessarily want to hire a full-time person. They are looking for someone they can hire on an as-needed basis. Eventually, they probably will hire full-time staff but for the time being, I don’t think that is a focus,” he explains.
Bringing in a specialist such as Dotolo on an as-needed basis offers companies a range of advantages:
“The cost will be a lot less,” notes Dotolo. “And I bring 20 years of expertise in the business covering sales, customer service and training that I can really put to good use for my clients.”
Dotolo has already concluded two consulting projects to date—even helping one client update a company profile, including developing the final presentation.
He also says he is receiving some very positive replies from some major operators.
“If people need me, they know to call,” he notes. “More and more stores are opening, and some are doing fairly well, even under the current cut back in travel,” he says.
He is optimistic that as more flights return from Latin America and resume on the West Coast with Asia, companies are going to need assistance with training maybe more than ever:
“Staff will need to refresh their customer service skills as well as their product knowledge. It is very difficult to show your smile when wearing a mask, but sales staff will need to be able to welcome back clients, and help them feel safe, comfortable and relaxed.”
Dotolo has the skills to show staff how to navigate even though they are masked so that they are fully prepared to greet and assist customers as they return.
Additionally, Dotolo says that many operators may be refocusing on different products and ways of doing business post-pandemic, and sales staff will need to learn new ways to accommodate customers.
“Air traffic does appear to be picking up, and as more airlines begin flying, the customers will come. And the stores will have to be ready for them. Hopefully, that is where I will come in,” he says. “I can help them get ready. Whether it is merchandising, training or just being there to assist staff as they greet the customers.”
Dotolo also points out that his prior operational expertise encompasses the full range of travel retail product categories—so he is able to provide assistance from product placement to HPPs. He is also available to travel anywhere, whether it be for a short-term or longer-term projects.
“This is the time for companies to strategize for the future. Product knowledge and customer service trainings, merchandising according to planograms and execution of promotions are areas where I can help a company in a time where hiring a full time professional may not be feasible.”
To contact Leo Dotolo, please call 954-980-5866 or email him at email@example.com