If you are in the world of retail or some service based businesses, you are scanning this article with glazed over eyes. You are probably a little exhausted with the season, but your efforts over the next few days can make a huge sales difference for your business. In the interest of brevity, we are going to jump right into some of the things you need to focus on to end your year on a high note.
- Be a problem solver for your customer.- This is the time of the year where people aren’t just browsing; they are looking for an item for someone on their Christmas list. Engaging your customers to find out who they are shopping for and what that person is like could generate significant sales opportunities. This is a great chance to engage customers with services that they may not know you have (shipping, gift wrap, etc.). AND, if they have other people on their Christmas list, you can suggest other LOCAL options. Once consumers see you as a resource, they are likely to come back.
- Get specific in your promotions!- We have a lot of new people in town, and people come from out of town to shop our area. When they hear “20% off store-wide”, it often doesn’t mean anything to a large portion of the consuming public. Why? If a potential customer doesn’t know what you carry in your store, offering a discount on “things” isn’t an enticement. So, if you run promotions, make sure you are highlighting specific products or services. Even if you aren’t discounting, simply pointing out items that are the “perfect gift” for someone is more effective than a simple “come in and see us” statement.
- A gift certificate is always the right size.- Some customers are hesitant if they don’t know the exact item someone may be interested in. Offer a gift certificate! You get to make a sale, the gift recipient gets what they want, and you earn a future shopper. If you don’t sell gift certificates, Emporia Main Street gift certificates are a local shopping option!
- Spot check your inventory.- Hopefully your inventory is changing rapidly this time of year. Spot checking your inventory can inform your staff how to sell items to you customer. Letting people know “there are only a couple of those left” (selling through scarcity), or letting your staff know that you have a lot of a certain item (sell through product education) can help your employees promote your inventory effectively while generating more sales.
- Make communication with your staff a priority.- This is not the time of year to skip staff time. When people get to work, set aside a few minutes to communicate goals, highlight procedures, and hone sales techniques. A prepared staff is a high performing staff. An employee without adequate preparation is stressed, and that stress can be infectious.
- Self care is a thing (for you and your staff).- It is really easy to get run down during the holiday season. Adequate breaks, little work treats, an (appropriate) joke of the day, or whatever else lifts your spirit is important. No one wants to spend with a Grinch, and your body language, voice, and overall attitude will impact those around you.
- Team work makes the dream work.- Promote team goals and team rewards this time of year. Not all goals need to be sales related, but providing your staff with something they can achieve together can provide a sense of camaraderie. Rewards can be monetary, or they can be something as simple as picking out the music for the day. You can even “trade out” prizes with another local business for performance (you provide “gifts” to their employees, and they provide “gifts” to yours) to decrease costs and improve variety/cross promotion.
- Decide your “after Christmas” business strategy, and how/when to communicate that to customers.- A mid-week Christmas is a little weird to plan for. Take a few moments to think about what you will do to reduce inventory after Christmas, how you will communicate your strategy to top customers, and when you will release that information. Extra planning leads to more effective implementation and a decrease in stress. Relay your strategies to Emporia Main Street, and we will do our best to help get the word out.
Okay, now back to work… Think about the items listed above, and have a very merry Christmas!