By Gene Fresco

The most important thing your store must have is credibility. Your customers must believe that your store is where it is happening.

How do you get credibility? Let’s find out.

As a road rep, I offered my dealers the opportunity to have endorsees of the products I sold give clinics in their stores. Those dealers who realized that these clinics would give their stores credibility said yes. They believed that having a rock star or a country star in their store would show their customers that they were in the “in crowd,” and that even a celebrity would come to their establishment.

Some of the celebrity musicians I traveled with included Nuno Bettencourt with Extreme, Craig Chaquico with Jefferson Starship, Ted Nugent, Tony MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore and George Lynch, plus many more.

Every place we went, the crowds were large and enthusiastic.
I could tell that the stores we were in were getting credibility and, of course, the products I was representing were getting credibility.

If you are offered the opportunity to have an endorsee in your store, always say yes. It is worth the effort and cost just for the credibility factor.

What are some of the other ways to get credibility?

Well, another way is what I call “Happy Faces, Going Places.”
Every time you make a sale, ask the customer if you can put his or her picture on a bulletin board in your store.

With the new picture phones, this will be easy to do. Print it out and stick it on the board.
New customers will see happy faces…maybe of people they know. (Make sure that the customer who bought the product is smiling and looks happy with his or her purchase.)

And there are more ways to get credibility.
Have your salespeople send a thank-you note to a recent purchaser, whether by postcard, e-mail or letter.
Send your customers a birthday card.
Publish your own newsletter, giving tips on maintaining instruments or upcoming events at your store.
I have a dealer who started doing this in his first month in business and he sent out 100. Today, he sends out 12,000 per month.

Today, you can do it by e-mail or you can do it in a blog. And, it’ll cost you just the time to do it. Always include a sheet of coupons for sale items.

Another effective way to get credibility is to have a battle of the bands or battle of guitar players or drummers, featuring great prizes that you can get your suppliers to furnish.

You must maintain a mailing list, whether it’s an e-mail list or an address list, to keep in contact with your customers on at least a monthly basis. This gives you credibility.

Your personnel must be trained in all the instruments that you have in your store, so they can talk intelligently about them.

One of the most flattering compliments I can get is this: “Gene, you sound like you know what you are talking about.” The day you hear this, you can bet you have credibility.

You must handle complaints with tact and fairness, making the solution a win-win situation. You have heard the old saying: “The customer is always right.” Well, quite honestly, sometimes the customer is wrong. But, you have to make him or her feel like he or she is right and solve the problem amicably.
Taking part in some charity by giving the charity an instrument to raffle off will give you free advertising and credibility.

I once held a battle of the bands for a dealer. He asked the public for donations to attend the battle of the bands, and all proceeds went to the high school band to buy uniforms. How is that for killing two birds with one stone?

The new year has arrived, and I am asking you to think about credibility. It is a very important factor in the success of your business.

Strive to make your store the most credible music store in your town. Do the things I mentioned, and think of more ways to make your business more credible.

Brainstorm with your employees on how you can do this.

Maybe they know someone or something that will help in accomplishing this goal.

Believe this or not, there is a town in Texas where the mayor has established an official day in the name of an Owner of a music store. Now that is credibility.

Make sure your personnel look professional, sound professional, act professionally and are professional.

Be in this game to win: not to lose and not to break even.

Have your personnel practice smiling. I know it sounds silly, but smiling is contagious. In fact, the telephone companies actually suggest you smile when you answer the phone, and the caller will smile, too.

You can see I have explored the finer points in salesmanship and I suggest that you do, too.

Do everything you do to the max. Don’t settle for almost.

That only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.

Do some soul searching. Look around your store. Does it look like it has credibility? Are the instruments clean, tuned and ready to play? Are the floors swept? Can people see in your windows? Are the employees smiling?

If you want to be successful this year, then you have to take what you do more seriously. You are playing a high-stakes game and must find ways to win by being the best at what you do. You can’t win a race by going only halfway.

You are on a ship of enterprise, and you must navigate your way through rough seas by being at the helm and steering your way to success.

I wish you good selling.

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