Retail education: Winning by default

Home Columns Retail education: Winning by default

by Kelly Kramer

Throughout my career I’ve been the one at the store who raised his hand and volunteered to work weekends and holidays. In fact, I work both Saturday and Sunday as part of my standard schedule and take Tuesday and Wednesday as my weekend.

Here’s why: It’s my belief that my buyers work during the week when most retail stores are open. So, when both spouses are available to shop, most stores are closed. Then they stumble into my showroom and I win by default. I understand not working because of religion or family but you must have someone on your staff who wants to take advantage of this loophole. I make about 60% of my sales on weekends. That, coupled with my belief in measuring the same day (usually after the close), makes for a highly unusual closing ratio.

She is so glad to find someone open, I reply, “Of course! We are in retail and that means we need to be here when our customers can be here.” That automatically tells her I care about her schedule and I’m smart enough to take advantage of my competition’s shortcomings. Then, when I tell her I can measure that day, I get a big smile because now I take one less day from her schedule. Here’s the best part: In most cases, both the husband and wife are available and can make a final decision that day.

Whenever I bring up this idea, I get retailers telling me they tried opening on Sunday and that traffic was slow. That’s like saying you tried to advertise a couple of times and it did not pay off. Being open on weekends is like advertising; it only works if you do it consistently. Then you have to tell every visitor to your store, every phone call that comes in that a single shopper can come in with her spouse on the weekends when they are both free.

When a single spouse comes in during the week I give her the full presentation and product demonstration, and when they return together she always says, “Kelly, would you show my husband that demonstration where you hit the laminate with the key?” That’s when the word “bingo” pops into my head.

Now, you are already 90% there. Your job early on is to guarantee the first customer is comfortable and impressed with you.

Never discount a single customer because she is probably going to sell you to her signifi- cant other.

Getting new talent

If you are not willing to give up your regular schedule to have a normal life just remember, you are in retail and times are tough. If you have to hire someone willing to work weekends and holidays, pay them a small salary and a large commission. With so many stores having gone under, it’s a great time to pick up an unemployed, talented sales star. Given time, this person will probably sell in two days what you do in four.

Other defaults

It’s no secret that having private-label lines and other exclusives make it easier to present a product that no one else can. Combine that with Internet capabilities and you have some pretty cheap advertising. For example, at my store we carry an awesome brand of cleaner called Poly Glow. Previous customers who have bought the product will go online to find their local Poly Glow dealer and I have by default, found about three new customers a week that have a chance to see my store. We are also a Schlüter Systems authorized dealer. That does wonders bringing in new faces and some big, quality, tile installs as well.

It looks like my definition of “by default” is simply doing something well that not many do, kind of like my product knowledge and sales training books.

Thanks for reading.

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