Busting the myths of specialty retail

| by Doug Fleener
Busting the myths of specialty retail

We achieve what we believe. Sometimes that serves us well, and sometimes that holds us back. Here are some of the myths that create barriers to success in stores and other customer-focused businesses.

Myth #1 - I can't make sales goal on slow days. Granted, it might be a little challenging to make your sales goal when fewer people are walking in the door, but slower traffic also gives the team an opportunity to spend more quality time with customers. All it takes is one good customer to make the day.

Myth busting action: Give your team higher average daily sales (ADS) and conversion goals on slower days. "Since it's slow, let's shoot for $125 per sale instead of our average goal of $100." Also, determine what actions will create those results. You might also set some higher expectations on calling customers and other traffic building actions.

Myth #2 - Customers want to be left alone. Customers want to be left alone by employees who don't add value to their experience, or until they've got acclimated to the store. As I've written many times, if the store experience is better with an employee than without, it's up to us to make the customer connection.

Myth busting action: The ability to engage customers is one of the most undervalued skills in specialty retail. It is something that needs to be practiced every day, and something managers/owners need to coach on. Make it a focus over the course of a week and you'll be amazed by how quickly you can elevate everyone's skills. Of course if the customer wants to shop without our help, that's fine too.

Myth #3 - It's hard to find good retail help. It's not a myth that hiring good people is difficult. It is a myth that most mangers/owners find good help, because managers/owners aren't actually looking. More often than not managers/owners hire the best of whoever applies for a job, when what they really need to do is go out and discover great people.

Myth busting action: Always be recruiting. True, that's easier said than done. To make it more actionable, try inviting at least one potential applicant to visit your store every week and give yourself an opportunity to recruit them. We don't like when people recruit in our stores, so we shouldn't directly recruit people at their place of business.

When that barista or waitress gives you great service, or you meet an interesting and outgoing person at a social event, tell them about your store and invite them to come see you. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to discover good people when you're looking for them.

Myth #4 - Paying individual commission will have a negative effect on the customer experience. It's not individual commission that's the issue; it's the behaviors managers allow to happen. I work with a number of retailers who pay an individual commission, and their businesses deliver some of the best customer experiences in retail.

Myth busting action:If you think individual commission could be a benefit to your business, try testing a two week or month long contests and award prizes to the employees with the highest sales per hour. Pay special attention to unacceptable behavior by more aggressive employees. After that, you might consider moving into paying on individual sales.

So let me ask, what myth busting will create more success in your store/business? Remember, we achieve what we believe.

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Employee Training, Specialty Stores

Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a proven retail and customer experience firm that works with progressive retailers and other customer-focused companies. wwwView Doug Fleener's profile on LinkedIn

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