Retailers Jeff Cowan and Ron Leach Share 20 Effective Strategies to Bust the Big Boxes
1. MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
You never get a second chance to make a good one. To ensure that your store creates a good first impression, keep it neat, clean and attractive. Spruce it up regularly. Periodically change the look of the first 300 to 500 square feet of the store.
2. CATER TO WOMEN
Statistics show that women initiate 80 percent of all major home-improvement purchase decisions. Add vignettes, color walls, accessories, etc., that will capture their attention.
3. BE EASY TO DO BUSINESS WITH
Make the buying experience easy and seamless for the customer. Use point-of-purchase information, experienced salespeople and very few forms. Team with suppliers who can deliver in a few days, as opposed to a few weeks.
4. PLEASE THE KIDS
Women bring their children with them to the store. Maintain an area for them with television, books and crayons. Provide beverages for the moms.
5. PROVIDE A RELAXATION AREA
After the products have been selected, use a comfortable, quiet room or area where the customer and salesperson can go over the final details -- without interruption.
6. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION FOR THE CUSTOMER
After the installation is completed, consider doing one or more of the following: phoning to thank the customer and find out if everything is satisfactory; sending a thank-you note; sending flowers/plants and/or certificates for in-home carpet care and/or floor care products.
7. BE ACTIVE IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Participate in business, community, social, non-profit, and service organizations. Encourage your employees to do the same. Support good causes.
8. HIRE AN ADVERTISING AGENCY
Choose one that can help you create an image, logo and reputation. Be consistent. Direct ad money to target specific types of customers such as seniors, women, etc. Sponsor programs and brochures for events that attract high-income people.
9. YOUR IMAGE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
Display throughout the store framed certificates of accomplishment that were earned by installers, salespeople, office personnel, and owners. Do the same with customer comment cards, notes of appreciation and business awards.
10. YOU DON'T NEED EVERY JOB
Forget the low-profit ones. Take the time to initiate effective strategies that will increase your percentage of profitable sales. You will be on a low-profit treadmill if you try to outbid the big boxes. The boxes have to sell price. Why? Because they can't provide customers with anywhere near the expertise that you can.
1. KNOW YOUR MARKET
Analyze your customer base, your local economy and your demographics. Make sure you are in tune with the market.
2. KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
Know who they are, what they are and where they are located. Learn their strengths and weaknesses.
3. DECIDE WHO YOU ARE (OR WHAT YOU WANT TO BE)
Know the answers to the following questions: Are you a full-service, broad-based, segmented or a niche store? Are you where you want to be? If not, take the steps necessary to get there.
4. HIRE SMART
Look for good people (not just retreads) who are qualified to fill the positions in your store.
5. COMPENSATE FAIRLY
Design performance-based compensation systems. Be sure to reward your personnel for achieving customer satisfaction.
6. EVALUATE REGULARLY
Personnel want to know where they stand and how well they're doing in their jobs. Review their strengths and weaknesses. Share this information with them and show them how to improve.
7. SET GOALS
Without goals you are nowhere. Keep in mind that where there are no goals, there are no rewards.
8. BUDGET FOR AND PROVIDE TRAINING
It is vital to always be learning. Provide ongoing training for your personnel. Take advantage of the seminars, clinics, certification programs, etc. available throughout the industry.
9. CREATE/APPOINT AN ADVISORY BOARD
Take advantage of periodic input from outside advisors who can help you improve various aspects of your business.
10. TRACK YOUR PERFORMANCE
If you don't keep score, you don't know who won the game or what makes you a winner or a loser.