As 2016 comes to a roaring end, I thought I’d share with you a few miscellaneous tips from your friends at Springfield Music, Inc. Even though the month has already started, you can likely work in some of the following tips. And, you might want to tear out this article and keep it handy. Then, your store can have a December to remember every year!
1. Create a document that’s titled something like “Holiday 2016 Notes,” and then share it with your team members. Resources like Google Drive, Dropbox and others make it very easy to create collaborative documents. In the file, you should keep a running list of recurring problems, new opportunities, and things that worked and things that didn’t. Be sure to review them the next year, so you can try to make each holiday sales season better than the last. We have done this for years, having started it in response to an observation I’d made that we kept making the same mistakes over and over. Of course, I accept that we will make mistakes. However, it really churns my butter when we make the same mistake twice (or more!).
2. Decorate your store and really get into the season. Start the holiday music playing on Black Friday; get some holiday-scented plugins for your showroom; and make sure your store is a festive place. Find someone on your team who has a knack for such things, give him or her a budget, and let that person go at it. If you don’t have someone on staff who’s good at these things, look to see if there are any spouses or friends of the store who would be willing to help decorate. (You can show that person your appreciation by giving him or her something, such as a gift card or even cold, hard cash.) If someone does a great job with the décor, be sure to take some pictures. That way, you can easily recreate it the following year.
3. Take a moment to reflect on all the people who help to make your business a success throughout the year. Have an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for your staff, your customers and your vendors. Find ways to show them that you appreciate all that they do for you. Maybe you want to offer your customers cider and cookies. For your staff, consider bonuses or gift cards, or even just an evening get-together at your store that features food, drinks and socializing.
Mitch Brashers, who is the Store Manager at our location in Springfield MO, sent an e-mail to his staff one year. I saved it, and I reread it every year. He wrote, “The more I have a positive and giving spirit, the more enjoyable and gratifying Christmas is. Be sure to express your gratitude toward customers and coworkers. What does this have to do with our jobs? If you can set your mind right and look forward to the music, the crowds, the weather, etc., rather than dreading them (as I so often have), you will be rewarded tenfold. The root of this is a spirit of giving. Be willing and eager to give your full attention to every customer. Go the extra mile, even if you have to sacrifice time or effort. We are in a position to have a great impact on many people. And that, my friends, is a powerful thing. We must also have that attitude toward our coworkers: Look to help each other out in all ways.”
4. Use this time to reexamine your refund policy. If you have a strict policy, consider that you might have been looking at return policies the wrong way. Perhaps you created a strict policy because, years ago, a customer took advantage of you. Realize that, when executed properly, a liberal return policy is a strong selling tool…one that shows your confidence in your products and offerings. Consider the feeling that your customer—the gift giver—wants to feel when his or her gift is given. That person wants the recipient to end up with something that makes him or her happy. If you can increase your customer’s confidence in that regard by offering a generous return policy, you are helping to make that person’s holiday shopping that much easier. He or she, thus, will likely reward you with more purchases in the future.
5. Finally, here are some sales tips to help put more jingle in the till:
a. Make sure that your sales staff is checking their on-hand inventory for go-to items, and that they’re prepared to sell what you have in stock. Many times, I have seen staff talking to a customer about a fabulous product, only to discover that it’s not in stock. Walking the floor at the beginning of every shift will help your staff to sell what you actually have in stock.
b. Keep selling until the customer says he or she is done. Look for ways you can make your customer’s life easier by helping that person purchase music products for as many of the people on his or her list as possible. A guitar for the older brother…a drum set for the middle sister…a ukulele for the toddler…plenty of stocking-stuffer items for everyone. This is a great way to show respect for your customer’s time, enrich his or her family’s lives through music, and increase your bottom line—all at the same time!
c. Sell gift cards! They are always the perfect size and color for every gift recipient.
I hope the preceding tips will help make your Decembers memorable!