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Christmas Quick Tip #14 – Get Away

In the interest of time during this busy holiday season, these blog posts will be short and sweet so that you can get back to business more quickly.

Here is tip #14 …

GET AWAY

No, I’m not suggesting you take a holiday this time of year (wouldn’t that be nice?). But I am reminding you that you need to leave the store for an hour or two each day. You need to go home and rest or go to a restaurant and have someone serve you.

This time of year we get in early, stay late, and always seem to be running errands whenever we leave the store. I know. I was part of that grind for twenty four years.

Unfortunately that is a recipe for disaster. If you work yourself too hard you will …

  • Learn to hate the holidays
  • Wear yourself out (often too soon)
  • Get so tired that you accidentally snap at a customer or staff
  • Ruin your health so that you miss out enjoying Christmas Day or New Year’s Day
  • Become so cranky your kids won’t like you

When I was young, my sister and I talked about how our “Christmas” dad was so far different than our friends’ “Christmas” dads. Don’t be that guy (or gal).

Every day take at least an hour break just for you.

No errands. No hiding in your office where they can find you. Get out of the store and try to relax.

Your store won’t implode if you’re gone for an hour (or if it will, then we need to talk about a little reorganization and maybe some staff training?). But you might implode if you don’t take those breaks.

The next ten days will be your busiest stretch of the year. Make sure you take care of yourself while you’re taking care of your customers. It makes the holidays so much more enjoyable.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Since I was working from 7am until 9pm I usually took a couple hours mid-afternoon. Often I would go home and nap. If that wasn’t possible, I would go to a restaurant and read the newspaper. That’s what got me through over two decades of holiday retail sales with my sanity (somewhat) intact.

PPS Put the calmest person on your team in charge. They keep everyone else calm, which keeps the fires to a minimum before you return.

Christmas Quick Tip #11 – Catch Your Employees

Christmas is only two weeks away! This is a quick tip to fire up your staff for the final push.

Here is tip #11

CATCH YOUR EMPLOYEES DOING SOMETHING RIGHT

By now, if you trained them well, your newbies should be doing more right than wrong. Pay close attention to them over the next couple days. Find something they did exceptionally well and praise them for doing it.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Simply say …

  • I love how you handled …
  • You did a nice job with …
  • That was really nice how you …
  • You’ve really gotten a handle on …
  • You do (_________) so well!

“There are two things people want more than sex or money… recognition and praise.” -Mary Kay Ash

Give your veterans some love, too.

  • You’ve really stepped up at doing …
  • Thank you for (_________)
  • I’m so grateful for all you did to …
  • You are my rock star!

Build up your staff with praise and recognition and you’ll see their energies rise. 

It will give you the necessary momentum to finish these last two weeks strong.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Don’t stop at just catching them once. Whenever you see energy levels fading, pull out the praise card. It works wonders!

Christmas Quick Tip #10 – Move Stuff Around

For the holiday season I am keeping these posts short and simple. You’re busy. I’m busy.

Here is tip #10 …

MOVE STUFF AROUND

By now you’ve had a pretty good taste of what people want. You already know the slow movers, the stuff you had high hopes for but haven’t seen the sales. Now is the time to move it.

Here is how you sell that merchandise without heavy discounts …

  • Move it around
  • Put it in a better location
  • Give it a spotlight and a sign
  • Treat it like it is special
  • Talk it up to your customers
  • Talk it up to your staff
  • Give your staff a spiff for selling it

It is better to mark it down a little and move it now while you have a lot of customers than try to move it in January at really deep discounts when you don’t have the traffic.

You have from now until Friday to identify those slow movers and relocate them in the store. (On Friday the men start their Christmas shopping.)

Go!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Remerchandising should already be the busiest thing on your schedule as you constantly shift inventory to make the store look full.

Christmas Quick Tip #9 – Empty Her Hands

This month’s blog posts are short and simple because you’re busy. They are also reminders of tips, techniques, and tools you can use to increase sales, increase profits, and increase customer delight. This tip does all three.

Here is tip #9

EMPTY HER HANDS

If you don’t have shopping carts or baskets, your customers are limited to buy only what they can carry. Therefore, it should be a mission for all of your team to help unburden your customers whenever their hands are full.

Offer to take her items up to the checkout station.

This is good for two reasons. First, it frees up her hands to shop for more items. Second, it helps close the sale because when she agrees to your request to take the items up front she is giving her implicit acknowledgement that she has decided to buy those items.

When her hands are free she will shop longer, buy more, and be happier.

Don’t believe me? Believe Paco Underhill. He researched it for decades and chronicled it in his book Why We Buy. If you haven’t read it, ask Santa to bring you a copy.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Come up with a system for your team when they bring items up front—put a sticky note with a name on the pile and/or have a designated place for piles—something that helps you keep piles organized so that the wrong items don’t go home with the wrong people.

Christmas Quick Tip #8 – Change Your Shoes and Socks

Keeping it short and simple for the busy holiday season, this next tip may seem minor, but at the end of the day you’ll thank me.

Here is tip #8

CHANGE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS

This time of year retailers spend for more time on their feet and far more time running back and forth than any other time of the year. By the end of the day your feet are killing you.

Two things you can do to help your feet get through this busy season are:

  • Change your socks midday
  • Alternate the shoes you wear

I used to keep a pair of socks in my office. During the Christmas season when I was working 7am to 9pm I would often change my socks in the late afternoon. Just that one act alone made my feet feel refreshed and gave me a little more spring in my step.

Not only was that good for me, it was good for my customers. It is hard to hide foot pain when interacting with other people. Like I said before, your last customer deserves the same level of enthusiasm as your first customer.

Alternating shoes is another way to keep your feet fresh. It gives your foot a different feel because different shoes work the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in different ways.

Encourage your employees working those long shifts to do the same. They will thank you. Their feet will thank you.

Your customers will thank you.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS My routine was to buy quality shoes with, comfy, supportive inserts, change my socks frequently, and switch between my dress shoes and my tennis shoes regularly. At night I would sprinkle baby powder into my shoes to help them dry up and smell fresh by morning. This tip won’t show up in any book on customer service, but it will affect your bottom line when you have more energy to work with those late-in-the-day customers.

Christmas Quick Tip #7 – Lead with the Best

Of all the Christmas Quick Tips I will give you, this one will be the hardest to master and quite possibly the most rewarding when you and your team do master it …

Here is tip #7

LEAD WITH THE BEST

Your customer is looking for solutions. Yes, at this time of year we call them gifts, but at the end of the day, they are really solutions to problems.

When you offer suggestions, unless the customer has given you a price range right up front, ignore price altogether and start by showing the best solution you have.

It doesn’t have to be the most expensive. It just has to make the most sense.

The tendency of most retail salespeople is to sell from your own pocketbook and start by offering the cheapest solution. That doesn’t win hearts (or build profits). You can use the cheapest solution as the fallback when they balk at the price of the best solution, but always lead with the best.

A customer will expand his or her budget if the product offered truly fits her needs.

You are a solution provider. Your job is to provide the best possible solution first. Then the customer can decide what she’s willing to compromise to fit her budget.

Teach your team that goal number one is to solve the problem in the best way possible. Always lead with the best.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Never open with the question, “What’s your budget?” First, they almost always lowball you well below what they would actually spend for the right product. Second, it pigeonholes you and often keeps you from showing her the right product. She’ll tell you when it’s out of her league, and you can adjust your offerings from there.

PPS Some of my favorite stores have successfully talked me into buying a more expensive item than I planned. I love those stores because in each case the solution was worth the expenditure. On the flip side, there are stores I won’t visit again because they tried to upsell me something that wasn’t the best solution to my problem. Always lead with the BEST.

Christmas Quick Tip #6 – Coins First!

Keeping it short and sweet, here is another simple, easy tip you and your team can do to make the holiday experience a better one for your customers.

Tip #6

GIVE THE COINS BACK FIRST

If you’re a regular, you know this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It shows both a lack of caring and a lack of training when the cashier hands me the bills first and then dumps the loose change onto my already occupied hand. The coins inevitably spill and now I’m wasting time on my hands a knees for a couple dimes.

Ugh!

The best thing you can do is teach your staff to “Count Back” the change.

The second best thing you can do is to at least have them place the coins in the customer’s hands first, followed by the bills.

Please, please, please teach and do this. Not only will you avoid those awkward hands-and-knees moments, you’ll subconsciously make your customer’s day (or in my case, you would consciously make my day and I would probably let out a rebel yell of joy!)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, I do think it is a big deal. There are little things that have bigger meaning. This is one of training and caring. A cashier taught the right way instills far more confidence than one who is bumbling around and making you drop stuff.

Christmas Quick Tip #5 – Start Closing at Closing Time

Since your time is tight, now through December 21st I’m keeping these blog posts short and simple with tips, tools, and techniques that make a difference.

Here is tip #5

START CLOSING AT CLOSING TIME 

Not before.

Yes, you’re tired. Yes, these are long days and you want to go home. Yes, waiting until closing time to wash the counters, count the change, empty the wastebaskets, etc. will make you have to stay a few minutes later.

Yes, your last customer of the day deserves the same enthusiasm as your first customer of the day.

Make it taboo for anyone on your team to mention how tired they are. This is your moment to make hay. This is what your whole year has been built around. You’re supposed to be tired at the end of the day. Just don’t let it show.

Treat the last customers with the same enthusiasm as the first customers. Don’t go around the store closing things down and making them feel unwelcome. Instead think of them as the icing on your sales cake and give them the red carpet treatment.

Even if you have to fake it.

It not only pays now with bigger sales at the end of the day, it pays down the road as a customer treated well is more likely to come back than a customer treated like a nuisance.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I was guilty of this far too often. It is the one mistake I wish I could go back in time to fix. Yes, they are long days for you. Have you ever considered it has also been a long day for your customer? Treat her with kindness and enthusiasm and not only do you get the sale, you just might make her day.

Christmas Quick Tip #4 – Never Say No

For the rest of the Christmas season I am keeping these blogs short and simple with one tip, tool, or technique you and your team can use to make this season rock!

Here is tip #4 …

NEVER SAY NO

You are going to be asked quite often for products you don’t have. Either you’re out-of-stock or you don’t carry that product (or maybe you’ve never heard of it). 

When the store is busy and you have other customers waiting to be helped, it is easy to simply say No and move on to a customer you can help.

Resist the urge.

Train yourself and your staff to Never Say No. Try out these phrases instead …

  • I have some coming in soon. Can I arrange to have it sent to you as soon as it comes in?
  • Are you looking for that particular item, or can I show you something similar?
  • We prefer this brand instead (be direct)
  • What are you hoping to do with that item? (if you know this isn’t just meant to be a gift)
  • Can you show me what it is? (if you’ve never heard of the item)

All of these phrases are conversation starters. Often a customer is looking for a specific item because she doesn’t know alternatives exist or she has an idea in her head and can only think of one solution. When you start the conversation, sometimes you find better solutions than the one she asked for.

If all you do is say No, they often quit asking.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Here’s another tool I stole from a fellow toy store owner. Create a “No List.” Put it on a clipboard up front. Every time an employee gets asked for a product you don’t have or a service you don’t offer, write it on the No List. If one thing ends up on that No List several times, you should consider selling that item or offering that service. Your customers already think you would.

Christmas Quick Tip #3 – Sign ‘Em Up Before Checkout

You’re busy. I’m busy. Our customers are busy. So in the interest of time, I’m keeping all the posts from now through Christmas short and sweet.

Here is tip #3

SIGN THEM UP BEFORE CHECKOUT

If you have a loyalty program, birthday club, or email list that you normally ask customers to join, you need to get in the habit of doing that long before they get to check out.

By the time the customer gets to checkout, they are in a hurry to leave. Anything you do then to slow down the line is an aggravation and leaves a bad taste in their mouth. They are not in a sharing mood then.

The best time to sign someone up is during the sales process. Not only are they in a friendlier mood, they are in less of a hurry and more willing to say yes.

Once you get them to say yes to your program, you make closing the sale that much easier.

Now is a good time to farm for your lists. Hire a seasonal person to wander your store with a tablet and/or clipboard and sign people up for your loyalty/birthday/email list. You’ll get more takers, close more sales, and keep your registers humming at optimal speed.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If you don’t have enough salespeople to have them all doing this job as part of their sales process, hiring a seasonal person for this will more than pay for itself down the road. Plus it gives you one more person on the floor to direct customers where to go and deter shoplifters.