Archive for August, 2011

Make Sure Your Customers Feel They Are Valued

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Make sure your customer knows that you value their business.

It sounds straight forward but, here’s a story about an employee who thought that he was doing me a favor by processing my order! Seriously.

I was driving home from an afternoon spent with relatives in a distant city. I spent about 8 hours in my car that day. I was tired and hungry. So, I stopped at one of those service centres that are dotted along major highways and I went in and placed an order for some food. I had two or three different choices of food vendors.

The employee took my order, and my money, and told me to move aside while I waited for my food. No problem, I didn’t want to be in the way of other customers.

Then, after a few minutes, the employee put my hot sandwich on my tray. He told me that the other item I had ordered would be ready in about 5 minutes or so. You know, 5 minutes…’or so’… is not really a long time but, at a fast food restaurant you kind of expect it to be…well, fast.

So, I told him that he should keep the sandwich  until my second item was ready. He said “No, you can just go ahead and start eating and then come back when it’s ready.” I told him that I understood that I could but I would rather have them at the same time. His reply was “What’s the problem? You have something to eat, just come back in a few minutes.” And he had a fake smile pasted on his face the whole time.

I was tired and exasperated….tired of these employees who treat me like I’m being difficult…like they really don’t care if they have my business or not.

In no mood for a battle of wits with the guy, I found a place to sit down and I ate my sandwich. 

Several minutes later, after I had finished my sandwich, a different employee brought my second item out to me and I thanked him. But I still felt that I wasn’t treated properly. This feeling could have been avoided if the employee I encountered first had responded differently; if he had just shown a tiny bit of respect for his customer. He had plenty of options open to him.

Many might say this is no big deal…but when, exactly, is it a big deal?

Very few companies go down overnight. It’s a gradual process which happens one dissatisfied or disappointed customer at a time. Be good to all of your customers…one at a time.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

User Friendly Retail Systems

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Upgrade and simplify systems to avoid losses due to POS errors.

The majority of retail employees can tell you at least one story about something ‘weird’ or ‘unexplainable’ that their POS (Point of Sale)system does. Honestly, you would be surprised at how many of these systems are not user friendly.

And anything that is not user friendly….is, by definition, error friendly! And errors cost you money.

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Retail store employees are not sitting back in a calm, quiet office environment – plucking one thing out of their in-tray at a time. They are usually running around doing several things at once, all the while their workplace is open to the public. Talk about multi-tasking!

We heard about a Store Manager who was not allowed, or able, to open her cash drawer with a key. So, if the POS system would not obey a command to open the drawer for any number of reasons…and, yes, there are plenty of very good reasons…then everything stopped. Staff were frustrated and customers were angry.

She recalled a day when the drawer was closed after a sale. The moment it was closed the cashier realized she had short changed the customer. Too late! Too bad! You can imagine the scene there!

Anyway, the point being made is that POS systems must be designed to take the nature of the business into account. Don’t go out and buy one based on price alone. Make sure it does everything you need it to do…and make sure it does it simply.

One last thought….receiving merchandise into the POS system, and transferring merchandise out, must be a straight forward and quick process. If it’s not, you’ll see the results in your shrinkage – real or not – you may never know.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc. 

PS: Our YourTime Study Courses are available for you or your employees to study anywhere, anytime, at your convenience. You can check them out here:
Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals:
http://www.dmsretail.com/retailsellingandserviceskillshs.htm
Retail District Management: http://www.dmsretail.com/retaildmstudycourse.htm
Retail Operations Management: http://www.dmsretail.com/RetailOperationsCourse.htm

PPS: If you like ‘Word to the RetailWise’, we encourage you to forward it – in it’s entirety – to your colleagues and friends who have an interest in retail. They can sign up here for their own free copy. It takes about 3 seconds. http://www.dmsretail.com/retailwise.htm

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Selling Step: Present Options

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Presenting options to your customer initially and during the add-on or upsell stage.

Everyone knows that Presenting Options is one of the steps in the selling process. But not everyone knows it means exactly that.

Too often sales associates suggest options, point to options, and generally talk about options…instead of actually presenting the options. Sometimes presenting options can seem like a lot of work…but it pays off. Work is part of the job, right?

By putting the options – merchandise – in front of the customer (or the customer in front of the merchandise) they are encouraged to touch, feel, play…whatever it is depending on the type of merchandise being presented. This helps the customer become emotional about it; it creates some sense of ownership.

So, if you’re a retail manager, take a moment to really listen to your sales associates when they are talking with customers. You’ll probably hear some  statements similar to these:

“We have widgets and they’re right over there.” Or, “A great widget would work well with that, and we do have some.” Or, maybe, “If you’re looking for a widget I can show you one if you like.”

Presenting is the key. Don’t just talk about your merchandise….show it!

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

Taking Initiative Makes a Difference in Your Business

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is:  Employees who take initiative make a difference in your business.

What’s the difference between an employee who takes initiative and one who doesn’t? It’s not so easy to tell, but there is definitely a difference. 

Here’s a story about a recent experience in my favorite market to illustrate the point:

I noticed there was no pre-made garlic bread – the kind that the bakery staff makes when the bread is really fresh; they spread butter and garlic on the fresh bread and wrap it in foil while it’s still warm.  

Fresh garlic bread is always available for sale at this market so it seemed odd that there wasn’t any. However, the store was really busy so it was reasonable that they had sold out. Their brand of garlic bread is particularly good…people can’t get enough of it!

So, I asked an employee if there was any garlic bread – perhaps it had been merchandised in a different spot. She took one look at the counter that normally held the garlic bread and didn’t miss a beat…she turned to me and said “I’ll have one made up for you. It’ll take only 2 minutes.” And she immediately went about making a loaf for me.

A very short time later she came out from behind the bakery counter and handed me my loaf of fresh garlic bread. Although this is a simple example of an employee taking the initiative to do something for a customer…when you compare her actions against the actions of 95% of retail/service employees out there today, it was pretty special.

I have been a loyal customer there for a couple of years, and my loyalty is not misplaced. 

It could have turned out very differently if the employee I spoke with was just average; if she was not the type to take initiative to please a customer. She might have said “Oh, I’m sorry we’ve sold out.” And that would be the truth and she may be really busy with no time to make a loaf for me.

But, I would have been disappointed.

Not upset, or angry or ready to take my business elsewhere…just disappointed that I missed out. No one feels good when they miss out.

That’s the difference I’m talking about.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

PS: DMSRetail has introduced 3 YourTime Study Courses – DVD’s, Workbooks & Study Guides, Maximum Performance Goal Planners and more. Learn anywhere, anytime and at a fraction of the price of attending workshops. Check the details by following these links.

Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals
http://www.dmsretail.com/retailsellingandserviceskillshs.htm

Retail District Management
http://www.dmsretail.com/retaildmstudycourse.htm

Retail Operations Management
http://www.dmsretail.com/RetailOperationsCourse.htm

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Another Word to the RetailWise

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Take responsibility for providing Buyers with merchandise feedback.

The Buyer’s in your retail operation may be incredibly talented…but they are not mind readers. Whenever they purchase goods that will be available for sale in the stores, they rely on their skills, talent and experience. It’s their job to get the right merchandise into the stores at the best margin they can make on it. Let’s face it…that’s got to be tough. Their mistakes will always be noticed.

So, store personnel need to do their part to help out.

How often have you heard a Sales Associate complaining that the Buyer’s don’t know what they’re doing and the Buyer’s complaining that the Sales Associates don’t know how to sell? It’s very co mmon.

Anyway, from a Store Operations perspective, know that once the goods arrive in your store you must take ownership of them. What else are you going to do? The company owns the merchandise and it’s your job to get them sold.

First, and foremost, store personnel need to be up to speed with product knowledge; all the features and benefits. The merchandise needs to be displayed properly, etc. Ideally, you sell out at first price!

In that case, the Buyer’s will likely get the picture without much feedback from you. They have numerous reports that show them what is moving and what isn’t. Of course, it’s still a good idea to let them know why a particular item was so popular.

However, if you have difficulty moving the merchandise after all of your best sales efforts, it may mean that there is something about it that the customer is not happy with. Your job is to figure out what that something is and ensure the feedback gets to the Buyer. After all, you’re in the best position to know.

If you don’t provide credible feedback and more of that same merchandise is purchased, the company will be less profitable than it could be. And no one wants that.

So, keep notes regarding the merchandise offered for sale in your store – good and bad – and make sure it gets to the right people. Remember to give honest, unbiased feedback; be impeccable with what you say. The Buyer has a big job to do, too!

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

PS: We’ve recently introduced 3 YourTime Study Courses for your convenience. Study anytime, anywhere! Check them out with these links:
Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals: http://www.dmsretail.com/retailsellingandserviceskillshs.htm 
Retail District Management: http://www.dmsretail.com/retaildmstudycourse.htm
Retail Operations Management: http://www.dmsretail.com/RetailOperationsCourse.htm

PPS: We’re on Facebook. Check us out and if you like us…please ‘Like’ us. Thanks! http://www.facebook.com/dmsretail

A Word to the RetailWise

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Make sure your new hires know what is expected of them. And I want to illustrate that with this short, but very telling story.

Here it is…

In a store that is part of a large international retail chain, I recently witnessed something that gave me reason to believe that their new employees simply did not know what what was expected of them. And, here is why I drew that conclusion…

While checking out, I was the customer next in line behind a woman who was purchasing no less than 15 women’s blouses. 15! It was a great sale for the store. The other item the woman was purchasing was something of a carryall bag. The woman wanted the cashier to put the blouses into the bag – very environmentally friendly and all that, right?

So, as the cashier scanned each blouse, she removed the security tag and crump led it up and put it into the carryall bag. Not folded, not even close to being folded. These blouses were being handled like something one would throw into the trash can. Seriously, I am not exaggerating.

Overcome with a sense of responsibility to defend every customer everywhere, I spoke up.

I said to the cashier “You know, this lady is buying all of these lovely blouses and you are not handling them very carefully. They’re going to be full of wrinkles and they’re brand new. I would be happy to help you fold them up.” Just a note here, the customer in front of me spoke very little English and that made it difficult for her to get involved in the conversation.

Some may say I should mind my own business but, in my line of work, it’s next to impossible to ignore these things.

I was ready for the worst…possibly a scene!

Anyway, to my absolute astonishment, the young cashier said, “You don’t have to help me. I’ll do it. That’s why I have a job.” I had expected a nasty stare, a flippant or sarcastic remark or, at the very least, a miserable attitude. But, no. The cashier – who I have not seen in this store before and am quite certain she is relatively new – proceeded to fold the items and then when it was my turn to be served  she continued to be very pleasant. What an employee…the kind we don’t come across very often anymore.

The moral of this story is: Teach your employees what is expected of them. This young woman; this new cashier simply didn’t know how she was supposed to handle the merchandise. She was very receptive to my ‘training’. I only hope I did not embarrass her. I commend her for her accepting attitude. But I must fault management for not having taught her properly in the first place. They basically set her up to fail.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc. 

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DMSRetail Press Release: Retail Operations Management YourTime Study Course

DMSRetail Inc., announces the Home, Store or Office Study Course version of the very popular workshop –
The Retail Operations Management Workshop .

Retailers want to capitalize on the opportunities that are definitely going to be coming their way and they want all of their people ready to hit the ground running. So, this Retail Operations YourTime Study Course has been made available to them for a fraction of the cost involved with attending personally.  With the economy recovering and the retail sector expanding, retailers know it’s going to be difficult to compete; to get, and maintain, market share and grow that incredibly important loyal customer base, if they’re not at the top of their game.

Matt Parmaks, Sr. Consultant & EVP for DMSRetail Inc. said “We’re so often asked if we sell videos and transcripts of The Retail Operations Management Workshop , that we felt it was time to make our brand of professional retail management training available to retail people who simply don’t have the time or resources to attend personally – those who don’t want the added cost of travel and accommodation. So, we’ve introduced a great, affordable and very flexible option for those who want to get their retail organizations up to speed quickly; firing on all cylinders; poised and ready to meet the demands of the new consumer.”

DMSRetail Inc., is a North American company founded in 1991 to help retailers increase sales & profits and generally become more successful by providing a wide variety of Success Guides, Tools, Consulting Services and Training Opportunities. Together, with their partners, DMSRetail adds tremendous value to retailers everywhere.

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If you would like more information about the Retail Operations Management YourTime Study Course , you can see details here: http://www.dmsretail.com/retailoperationscourse.htm  or if you’d like to schedule an interview with Mr. Matt Parmaks, please call (312) 239 0919. Or send an email to Josephine Hill at jhill@dmsretail.com  to arrange it.


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