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Sign Up for the Spotlight on Managerial Success Workshop

If you’re still sitting on the fence about signing up for next Wednesday’s SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  1. Do you manage a team of three or more people?
  2. Do you feel that your team is not working up to their best potential?
  3. Do you believe you could improve your communication skills?
  4. Do you hate confrontational situations?
  5. Do you believe that team building can be fostered and led rather than just happening organically over time?
  6. Do you believe your new hires need a better, more consistent training program?
  7. Do you believe your current team would benefit from further training?

If you’re answering No then you can stop reading. You’re good to go.

If you’re answering Yes, then ask yourself these two questions…

  1. What will help your business more in the long run – you being there at your business all day Wednesday or you taking a day to learn new skills, techniques and tools to make everyone on your team more productive?
  2. Where else could you get hands-on training to teach you how to lead team building, teach you how to communicate better, and help you build training plans for your employees for only $50 and eight hours of your time?

If you’re still not convinced, let’s make this really simple… If you don’t find value in the program, I will refund your money. Period. (If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m serious about that. Customer first. Always.)

Sign up today!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Here’s a benefit I have yet to mention. Attend this Jackson Retail Success Academy™ event and you will become an alumni, eligible to attend future JRSA™ events at discounted prices!

 

How to Teach a Class in Your Store

You know why you need to teach classes in your store. Here are the six steps you take to create a class that draws traffic, builds excitement, gains you followers, sets you up as the expert, and makes people want to buy from you.

  1. Determine which product(s) you sell that takes the longest to explain or takes the most trips before the customer pulls the trigger. These are the items to build your class around because these are the items that require an expert. The more questions a customer asks about a product, the more likely you’ll find people wanting to attend a class to learn more.
  2. Write down all the questions a customer typically asks about the product. Then add in two more questions you think they should be asking. This will become the outline of your presentation. (You can brainstorm this list with your sales staff.)
  3. List all the benefits of the products (remember, a feature is what the product does, a benefit is why that helps the user).
  4. List all the downsides of the product. Everything has a downside. If you don’t tell your customer up front, she will think you’re hiding something. Being honest about the downsides wins you trust.
  5. Get the customer to visualize using the product in her home or in her life. Ask questions like, “How would you use this?” Where would you use this?” “Do you see yourself using this?” “How would this affect your life right now?” This moves the customer from being in analytical mode to being in ownership mode. We only do in real life what we have already visualized in our minds. Get your customer to visualize owning the product and you will be more likely to win the sale.
  6. List all the reasons why someone should buy this product from you. If you offer services like layaway or financing or delivery or assembly, this is when you share that information. If you truly have answered all the most important questions including the ones they forgot to ask, and you have helped them visualize owning and using the product, then you have their permission to sell them. Just remember that you aren’t selling a product, you are selling a solution.

That’s the class. It is no different than selling to one person while a bunch of other people sit in and listen. You can decorate with comfortable seating, snacks & prizes (ask your vendors for giveaways), cool signs, etc. Just make sure you follow the steps above so that you offer a true benefit to your customers. They’ll thank you for the effort with their pocketbooks.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Don’t worry about attendance. You might get 30 people, you might get 3. Make them feel special. Go above and beyond what they expect. Not only will you get the sale, you’ll get the referral, which is often a more powerful sales tool than the class, itself.

PPS Just a reminder that it doesn’t have to be that expensive to advertise. Social media, email, your website, some in-store signage, and a few online community calendars will draw a crowd. Make it worth their while and they’ll help you draw the next crowd.

Why You Should Teach What You Know

Here’s a myth worth busting… “Thanks to the Internet, the customers know more about the products than the sales people.” If you believe that, you’ve given up. Might as well close up now and avoid further losses.

First, not all customers do the research. There is a big group of people who don’t want all that knowledge. They are looking for someone who already has that knowledge that they can trust.

Second, there is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. As the quote we’ve all seen says, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. wisdom is knowing not to include it in a fruit salad.” You have wisdom. You know what your product does and why that is important.

You need to teach.

Phil Wrzesinski Teaching Shopping for Baby 101 Class

I know your first objection. If I teach it, they’ll just take what they learn and go buy it somewhere else cheaper. Guess what? That person was going to go buy it somewhere else cheaper anyway. Period. Without the class, you would never have seen them in the store in the first place and had the chance to turn them into a customer. I would rather they got the knowledge from me so that they got the right product. Even if they didn’t buy it from me, they will know I steered them right. That may be just enough to get their business next time.

I know your other objection. It takes too much time and energy (and money) to put together a presentation, draw a crowd, and share your proprietary information with others. Oh, but that time and energy is well worth it when you look at the benefits.

When you teach a class on your products, you attract customers to your store who are actively in the market for the products you sell. No one else is coming to your class. Think of it as the most direct of direct marketing. The class brings you exactly the customers already in the market for what you are selling.

When you teach a class you send a message out to everyone that you are the expert on the subject. For some people, just finding an expert is good enough for them. They trust you because you are willing to put your name and reputation on the line with this class. The press is also paying attention and looking for the expert they can interview when the time arises.

When you teach a class you get to control the wisdom and make it relevant and important. You make sure the audience understands why one product might be desirable over another. You get to answer the questions they often forget to ask. You get to answer the questions they didn’t know to ask, which only helps to cement the thought of you as the expert in their minds.

When you teach a class you gain followers and fans. People will look up to you as the leader in this category.

When you teach a class you create excitement in your store. Your parking lot will be more full. Your store will be more full. Your walk-in customers will wonder at the all the buzz.

When you teach a class in your store you will get asked to teach that class to groups outside of your store. That’s the icing on this cake. That’s the outreach that helps you find new markets of customers.

Not the teacher type? The next post will show you HOW to teach that class. It isn’t as hard as you think.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS It doesn’t have to be that expensive, either. You don’t need a big space. Move a few fixtures and do it in your store. You don’t need a lot of advertising. Social media, email, your website, some in-store signage, and a few online community calendars will draw a crowd. Make it worth their while and they’ll help you draw the next crowd.

PPS Schedule your best staff to work the floor while you teach and make it mandatory that any staff not working the floor during the class is attending the class. You can kill two birds with one stone by teaching your customers and your staff at the same time. Win-win!!

One Little Problem, One Big Mess

I went down to the basement this Sunday to turn on some lights and make sure it was presentable for a house showing in three hours. It wasn’t. At the bottom of the stairs I encountered a huge puddle of water and a steady drip, drip, drip from the floorboards above. There were only two things that could have put water in that area – the dishwasher and the refrigerator. I turned off the water to both of them and grabbed a mop.

The carpet remnant laying in the area was soaked. All ten by eleven feet had sucked up a fair amount of water. I rolled that carpet up and out of the way and started mopping. I figured if I could get the area clean and dry, I could worry about the source of the leak (which had stopped) later.

It wasn’t until Monday night that I found it. I fixed it with a .40 part from the local hardware store.

A small leak in the supply line to our refrigerator ice maker had dumped an entire bucket of water into our basement and almost derailed a house showing.

Isn’t that the same with business? A little leak can cost you a ton of business.

An employee who isn’t trained and ready for the floor gets shoved out there because of a shortage of staff and through no fault of his own angers the first two customers he faces.

A common problem grows into a huge hassle with Yelp reviews and threats of lawsuits because someone didn’t listen closely enough to the unhappy customer.

A mis-tagged price change upsets a regular customer who quietly becomes an un-regular customer.

A rarely-updated website gives out wrong information that causes a customer to search elsewhere for a product you have.

A Facebook page gives out the wrong hours and a customer stays home even though you were open.

An employee cluster discussing last night’s show misses a customer needing help who doesn’t want to bother the group discussion.

A missed note about being out of copy paper keeps you from printing off the directions to your customer’s favorite game and being her hero.

These are all small leaks, but they can fill a lot of buckets with the missed sales and missing cash. Some say you need to work on the big leaks first. But those are obvious and already get your attention. Keep an eye out for the small leaks, too. Although harder to find, those are easier and quicker to fix and will pay off dividends.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Fortunately, the refrigerator was a cheap and easy fix. Better yet, not knowing if it was the dishwasher or the refrigerator, I found an even smaller leak in the dishwasher that my buddy, Alan, was able to fix before it became a bigger problem. Sometimes it pays to go looking for little leaks and fixing them now before they become big leaks.

PPS When you find a small leak, your first reaction is to do a temporary fix, figuring you’ll get back to it later. Pro tip: you never get back to it later. Fix it right the first time.

Before You Start Advertising

I am working on my next book (new working title “Most Ads Suck: But Not Yours”). It will help you write copy that gets noticed, remembered, and acted upon, whether for digital, print or broadcast consumption. It is an in-depth take on one of my more popular speaking topics – Making Your Ads More Effective. This book will focus purely on your advertising and marketing content and show you what works and what doesn’t.

Yesterday’s blog about what my grandfather wrote back in 1969, however, had one line about advertising that sticks in my mind.

“If a customer is not satisfied after he is in the store, there is no sense in advertising to get him in the store.” -Philip H. Conley, 1969

Kinda reminds me of another quote I like…

“Advertising will only accelerate what was going to happen anyway.” -Roy H. Williams, 1998

Whenever a company asks me how much they should spend on advertising, my first question is to ask how much are they spending on staff training. No matter what criteria you use to determine your ad budget, if you aren’t spending an equal amount of resources training your staff to be exceptional and extraordinary, you are likely spending too much on advertising.

This is why you see so many big retailers closing their doors. Too much money on advertising, not enough on the in-store experience.

You only get traffic three ways:

  1. Repeat customers
  2. Referral customers
  3. Advertising-driven customers

Repeat customers come from offering great customer service, meeting your customers’ expectations at every point along the way.

Referral customers come from offering over-the-top customer service that causes word-of-mouth. You get that by exceeding your customers’ expectations along the way.

If the majority of customers walking through your door are ad-driven, then your customer service isn’t up to par. You need to hire me to do the breakout Raising the Bar on Customer Service. Or better yet, plan a half-day workshop and I’ll also show you the best way to create a team to consistently deliver that high level of service.

If the majority of your customers are repeat and referral (and business is steady), then go with the breakout session Making Your Ads More Effective. It will deliver the techniques you need to increase your ad-driven traffic. Better yet, the half-day workshop helps you with strategy, too, including how to calculate your budget and choose your media. Best of all, the full-day workshop includes uncovering your brand and message.

First things first, though, as Phil and Roy said, before you spend money on advertising, make sure you have something worth promoting.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I know some of you are going to tell me there is a fourth way to get traffic – walk-in traffic. I will argue that walk-in traffic is part of your advertising. Your location is part of your overall exposure. Bad location, bad signage, bad front window, no walk-in traffic. (Take the half-day marketing and advertising workshop and you’ll learn how to include your location in your ad budget.) 

The Power of the Network

I went to a networking event a couple nights ago. I knew walking in that the likelihood of picking up a high-paying speaking gig from this event was incredibly low. In fact, the idea that I would be able to pick up any speaking gigs from this event never really entered my mind. I went for one reason, to strengthen my network.

A lot of people have told me over the years that they hate networking events. They never meet anyone who wants to buy from them. Those people, like most people at these events are missing the point.

I bet if you asked a room full of people at a networking event how many were hoping to sell someone, every hand would go up. Then if you asked how many were there to buy something, not a hand would be raised. In fact, I know this is true. A buddy of mine asked those very questions while giving a keynote at a networking event. What he said next was advice I have never forgotten…

“The first one of you ‘sellers’ who changes his or her mindset into being a ‘buyer’ will be the most successful person at this event.”

He wasn’t telling you to actually buy someone’s services, but instead to listen to what they have to offer. Most of us are polite enough to hear someone else’s sales pitch, but we aren’t really listening, just waiting for the moment to jump in with our own pitch. If you go in with the mindset of a buyer, however, you are actively listening and actively thinking through your own databank of people you know who might need this service.

You take that approach and three things will happen…

  1. You will strengthen and enhance your own listening skills which will help you no matter what you’re selling.
  2. You will connect a person you know with a service they need. That’s always a good thing.
  3. You will earn some reciprocity. As soon as you refer someone to a business contact, that business contact will be looking for ways to repay you.

That’s how Networking is supposed to work. Don’t turn your nose up at the next Chamber outing. Try taking a different approach. Try being a buyer in a sea of sellers. It is not only more effective, it is a heck of a lot more fun.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I only met two new people at the event, but more importantly I reconnected with a lot of people and got up-to-date on what was happening in their businesses. I’ve already made a couple referrals heading their way.

Don’t Build Your Own Obstacles (Part II)

If you’re a BBQ lover in the Detroit area, you recognize this door. Behind it is the tantalizing flavors of smoked meats, refreshing liquids from the Great Beer State, and an aroma that pleasantly stays in your nostrils for hours. You know it as Slow’s BBQ. In fact, you take pride in knowing those natural-colored thin planks stacked tightly together is the actual door of entry, not the door to the right going upstairs, nor the door ten feet left of the picture covered with stickers and locked, nor the locked door leading to the patio another fifteen feet to the left and directly beneath the sign on the building telling you that you’ve arrived.

Those were the three doors I tried first before finding the actual opening.

If there hadn’t been a sign on the building telling me where I was, this would be a different post. It would be about Over-the-Top Design and Sharing Secrets. It would be about how you felt like an insider because you knew the red and black building without a sign and with a hidden doorway was home to some killer ‘cue. You only knew because someone told you, making it (and you) feel even more special.

Instead, I felt like an idiot. I felt like I was made to feel stupid before I ever set foot in the joint. That’s a big obstacle to overcome. If the food or the service had not been stellar, just average, I’d probably never go back. It would be a nagging feeling just below the surface.

As I was leaving, there was a guy outside having the same struggles I had. Apparently the design of the door wasn’t over-the-top enough to get people to talk about it, only about the food. Their fancy, hard-to-find door didn’t generate word-of-mouth, only frustration. You never want your customers walking into your establishment frustrated. Make sure they know how to get in the front door.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The other alternative would be to remove the sign on the building altogether. Sure, it would make it harder and even more frustrating for some people to find the joint, but since most of these places get their new business from word-of-mouth, it would ratchet up the need for people to talk about the design elements and ratchet up the feeling of knowing something others don’t. It would have changed my feelings of frustration to feelings of discovery and being in-the-know.

PPS Of course, at the end of the day, if you’re a restaurant, you better have over-the-top food first and foremost. Slows brought it. I saw a few items on trays passing by that will get me back. They overcame the obstacle. Not many stores and restaurants do.

What Are You Doing to Grow?

I stood on the stage. It was small, in an awkward room with pillars that blocked sight lines. The room was supposed to hold 150 people, but I could see them setting up extra chairs in the back of the room. Even still, there were people sitting on the floor leaning back against those horrible pillars.

Phil Wrzesinski Presenting Pricing for Profit at Retail Success Summit

Three days earlier a gal who had seen this speech the year before told me how it had saved her store. That’s mighty high praise for any speaker. I was in awe. That speech had been my first to a group of retailers like this. To have that affirmation was amazing. She wasn’t the only one . Another retailer told me that the only reason he was back was because of what I taught. He took a front row seat to hear the same presentation again.

Back on the stage the microphone was hot. My voice was either a whisper or a boom no matter where I placed the lapel mic or where the sound guy turned the knob. I went with boom. The stage was too small and I was wireless. I walked the room, trying not to trip over the legs of people sitting by the pillars, all while making sure they felt acknowledged for being there.

I knew my slide deck by heart. Loved the new slides the Slide Doctor helped me create. Far better than the previous year. Everything flowed. The audience laughed at all of the jokes, went silent when I lowered my voice, and asked all the questions I wanted them to ask. If you’ve ever given a presentation, you know what I’m talking about. Public speaking nirvana.

All those A+ grades in my high school public speaking class just because I was good at improv, all those rowdy dining halls filled with 6th graders teaching them a new song, all those classes in the Toy House with expectant parents in rocking chairs waiting to be illuminated, even all those moments when the little red light went on to tell me we were on the air, none felt quite like this.

It wasn’t a standing ovation (unless you count the people sitting on the floor getting to their feet). But I can still hear the applause. One hundred and thirteen of the roughly 175 people in that room filled out their evaluations. All one hundred and thirteen gave the topic a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0. All one hundred and thirteen gave the presenter (me) a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0. The room itself got a 3.2 for lack of chairs among other issues.

It was Mary Lou Retton at the Olympics. It was Michael Phelps in the pool. It was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. It was seven years, dozens of presentations and eight perfect scores ago.

That’s why I’m signed up for a one-day Speakers Workshop in April.

Confused?

The point is this. No matter how good you (think you) are, no matter how experienced, you can always get better. Every year I hear business owners say they want to grow, but then they go watering the wrong plants. Your experience and training got you this far. If you want to grow your business farther, you need to grow yourself first.

You’re already reading this blog. That’s a good start. I encourage you to spend some of your precious time and energy strengthening your own roots. The more you grow, the more your business grows with you.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Read books. Read blogs. Watch YouTube videos. Listen to podcasts. Sign up for webinars. Go to seminars and workshops. Hire a coach. Find a mentor. There are many ways to fertilize your growth. Ask me if you’d like suggestions. (I just did the same thing – asked a bunch of my peers for new reading material for 2017 and got a list started.)

PPS Pricing for Profit (I knew you’d ask.)

 

 

 

How Will You Measure 2017?

The New Year is here. Your New Year’s Resolutions are gone. The inventory has been counted. The mail carrier is complaining about all the catalogs weighing down his bag. You’re trying to make sense of what just happened in 2016. (Or just trying to forget what happened in 2016.) 2017 is here whether you’re ready or not.

The only real question you need to answer right now is…

How will you measure 2017?

Will it be by growth in top line sales or bottom line profits? Will it be by management of cash flow or expenses? Will it be by the number of days you actually take off? Will it be by the number of human resource headaches you have (or don’t have)?  Will it be by “likes” and “shares” and “comments” on social media?

You get to choose. You have to choose. You have to decide where to put your limited energies and resources. If the bottom line is good, you work on cash flow. If the money is good all around, you work on HR. If the staff isn’t giving you any hassles, you work on PR and social media. If all of them need a hand, decide which one is most critical (hint: cash flow) and go there.

PICK A PROBLEM, SET A GOAL

The key is to determine what you want to measure and – most importantlyhow you’re going to measure it. It is that second part that gives you the  map to guide your decisions for the year.

Most businesses fail to set specific goals. They set vague ones like “grow profit”.  Then they forget all about those goals the very next morning as the day-to-day running of the business takes hold. But if you say “grow profit by $5,000” then you know you need to increase sales, decrease expenses, and/or increase profit margin. If you say, “grow profit by $5,000 through better control of expenses” you have an even clearer path.

The more specific your goal, the easier to plot the course. The more you make it known and talked about with your team, the more accountable you (and they) will be. The more you reward the team for reaching the milestones you set throughout the year, the more they will help you.

Roy H. Williams said it best, “What gets measured and rewarded, improves.”

The more specific you make your goal, the easier it is to draw a map that will get you there.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Once you’ve set your destination, do yourself a favor. Print it out and paste your goal somewhere in the back office area where you will see it daily. Tell your staff the goal and ask for their input on how to get there. Talk about your goal in every single meeting. Research new ways to reach your goal. Set up milestones to measure your progress. Hold yourself accountable to your goal. Reward yourself and your staff as you reach each milestone along the way.

PPS Not sure how to set your goals or need help with your map? Send me an email. As always, I’ll do whatever I can to help.

When It Is Time to Move

Maybe it is declining sales in your current location, or maybe you’ve peaked out your sales and don’t have the room to expand. Maybe the demographics of your location have shifted or maybe your store’s product mix doesn’t fit in with the surrounding stores. Maybe a new development has made you an offer too good to be true.

There are dozens of reasons you can justify for moving your store (and just as many for staying put – too costly, lost sales during the move, will the customers still find us? can we afford it? is the grass actually greener? etc.)

The decision to move your store has to be something you research and consider the issues carefully. A bad move will sink you. A great move will grow you. A lateral move will wear you out.

Here is the short version of this blog…

  • Don’t move unless you have to – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
  • Prioritize what you need from your new location – More Traffic? Parking? Accessibility? Visibility? Better Demographics?  Do your research
  • Plan for extra expenses – moving costs, lost sales, etc. all add up quickly
  • Buy what you can afford – yes you expect your business will grow eventually, but make sure you can afford it on day one.

NO LONGER SUITS YOUR NEEDS

The first decision is the desire to move. You move when your current location no longer suits your needs. Your business model is working but your location isn’t the ideal spot. It’s too small, too big, too quiet, too expensive, too hard to find, wrong demographics, wrong part of town. There was an auto dealer in San Diego that was constantly advertising that if you would work with their location, they would work with your price. It became their gimmick, but at a great advertising expense. That low overhead from the lousy location was instead spent on advertising and profit margin.

Moves are risky. There are no guarantees your move will grow your business. If your current location suits your needs, the risk factor for moving goes up exponentially and it is often better to stay put.

WHERE DO YOU GO?

Just making the decision to move is huge, but you have to also know where you want to go. What are you lacking at your current location? Is it traffic? You’ll likely have to pay more in rent to get better traffic. Is it space? You can find bigger spaces, but you might have to give up something else like traffic or parking.  Is it better demographics? Do you know your demographics well enough to know what “better” demographics look like? The most important question is this…

Can you afford the new location with the money you’re making currently?

We all would like to think our business will grow hugely at the new location. But that isn’t always the case. Plus there are a lot of costs involved in moving that eat up any extra sales and profits. You have the lost days of sales while you move. You have the build out of the new place. You have the changing of phone and address and lost mail and lost shipments. You have the revving up of the new location as your regulars try to find you before the newbies have discovered you. You have the advertising of the change of address including the banners at the old location, the grand opening banners at the new location, the advertisements and the big grand opening event itself.

PRIORITIZE YOUR NEEDS

We moved once in our 67 years in business. The store started in a house. We bought neighboring houses and tore them down for a parking lot and a couple expansions. But we maxed out our location at about 10,000 square feet. My grandfather wanted three things in his move. First he wanted a larger building. He drew up two plans for a 20,000 sq ft building and a 24,000 sq ft building. Second he wanted to be along the busiest road in the downtown district (suburban shopping malls were not yet a thing in 1967.) Third, he wanted his own parking lot.

He found his location – an easy right hand turn off the busiest road in the downtown with plenty of room for parking in both the front and back of the building – and opted for the 20,000 sq ft building because that was all his current level of business could afford. He also had the expenses of moving. Even as a big fish in a small town, the newspaper didn’t cover our move. He had to take out his own ad in the paper. He used this picture with the headline,

“But Grandpa, Momma Won’t Like it if We Play in the Mud”

Yes, his business grew – fast enough that he needed that extra 4000 sq ft only five years after moving. Fortunately he also had the foresight to buy a piece of property that would allow such growth, and he now had the money to pay for it.

That location served us well for many decades even as new competition came to town. But when the demographics of the whole county changed, so did the options for moving. The criteria that served us well before were no longer the criteria we needed. Our options were downsizing greatly or moving to a new community, neither of which we wanted to do.

Moving is a big deal and can be a huge benefit for your business. It can also sink you. Make sure you are moving for the right reasons.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I didn’t discuss renting versus owning. That is a topic worthy of its own post (or three).