Answer: There is an adage about how to grow sales—the three ways to grow sales actually. First is to get more customers buying from you. Second is to increase the frequency with which your customers buy from you. Third is to increase the average ticket size of your customers’ purchases. What do these three things have in common? Your customers!
Do you know how many new customers you are getting in a month? How about in a week? How about each day? Which days are best? What about which hours are best? Are you looking at that information and staffing accordingly? You should be able to get it out of your POS system.
Let’s back up one step: Are you collecting customer data at the POS at all? The most recent study I saw showed that 44 percent of retailers collect customer information but don’t do anything with it; 25 percent don’t collect it at all. Specialty retailers live and die with their customers. After all, it costs five times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. For a specialty retailer it shouldn’t be “know thyself,” it should be “know thy customers!”
If your process consists of a clerk asking customers if they’re on your mailing list, you won’t be too successful. Instead, create a patter at the register for the staff to say, “What’s your name so I can look up your account? Oh you’re not in the system? Well, we offer invite-only events, special pricing, and advance notice on new items to our preferred clientele. What’s your name so I can make sure you have access to that?” Then have them fill out their information on a clipboard while the sale is ringing up, so that you don’t waste their time at the register but can still capture the information and update it after the sale.
Okay, let’s say you know how many customers you’re getting and are capturing information on them. Now, are you looking at how often they’re coming into the store to buy and thinking about ways to increase that frequency? Again, all this information is available in your point of sale system. Do you know who your most frequent visitors are? Do you treat them special? Do you call them or send them thank you cards, or offer special promotions to their friends if they want to refer them to you? These are just some quick ideas, but the point is to know this information and use it as an asset!
Lastly, how do you increase your average ticket? Do you know what your average ticket amount is? Do you know which of your sellers has the highest average ticket? Why not look at that information, and then find out what he or she is doing differently than the other staff and duplicate? Shoot, make it even easier than that and offer them something special to have a little training session for the other sellers.
All of these ideas take advantage of the assets you already have. Customers are the biggest one. Simple reports and charts are another. Use the technology you have in your store to increase your knowledge about every aspect of your business. I see people all the time looking for the “new thing” that’s going to save the day when challenges arise. In fact, it’s often the old thing that’s proven to work, but just needs to be reinforced.
Have a successful and prosperous 2012!