A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a former colleague of mine.   In a past life of mine, we worked side-by-side in the Head Office of a big retailer in Canada.  At the time, I was a leader in the Marketing Department and she was climbing the ladder over on the Store Operations side of the business.  She is now leading Store Operations for that same retailer and I, of course, am here at Graff Retail doing my best to support retailers far and wide with all of their training endeavours. 

After catching up a bit, our chat moved over to reminiscing about how she landed in her current leadership role.  Our walk down memory lane revealed some interesting truths about the contrast between how much training she received during her days at store level vs. the lack of training she has been exposed to since moving into Head Office and continues to progress in her retail career.  My path at Head Office was the same.  Promotions came my way and I just jumped in and figured it out.  But how much better could I have been?  It was a bit laughable to be honest.

How are your customers being treated every day?  Do you know for sure?  Maybe you’re simply accepting the input and opinions of your management team.  Or maybe you’re just assuming?

Whatever process you use to ensure that store staff are properly servicing your customers, it’s probably time for you to consider taking things to the next level by formalizing your service standards.  Why?  Despite beliefs to the contrary, most retailers fall down in this area … big time!

The much-anticipated holiday season has now come and gone.  Biggest selling opportunity of the year, right?  How did you do?  Move more merchandise than ever before?  Keep the cash registers running at full tilt?  Set an all-time revenue record?  Good for you!!

Now for the bad news.  Your success wasn’t shared by every retailer.  And it isn’t because the crowds didn’t show up or the weather was too nice.  The ‘sales damage’ we’re talking about was self-inflicted.  What do we mean?

Here we are, just 11 'sleeps' away from Christmas day.  How have sales been in your stores so far this holiday selling season?  Hitting your targets?  Celebrating success?  We certainly hope so, because there can hardly be one good reason why you shouldn't be doing better this year than last.

But, ask yourself a bigger question:  Do you have the Christmas spirit yet?  Does your staff? How about your customers?

During countless trips through numerous stores over the past few weeks we couldn’t help but notice a predominant and very disturbing trend … it’s next to impossible to find a manager on the sales floor!  Can you believe it?  The most important retail ‘show’ of the year and the cast and crew are running around without any direction or guidance from the most critical player of the performance … the director!

Ah, there’s nothing like retailing at this time of year … bustling crowds … Christmas carols … smiling faces … and busy cash registers!  Your store is always crowded, your sales volumes are skyrocketing and hey, you might even be beating your revenue targets!  Is this enough?  If you think so, here’s a new concept for you -- stop managing your store only to its sales objective and start leading it to its true potential!  What are we talking about? 

For just about every retailer, Black Friday is the holiday selling kick-off that we've waited for all year!  Knowing that so many purchase decisions are made at store level, it's time to make sure everyone on the sales floor is at the top of their game.  Here are 3 more things you can do right now to help you squeeze a few more dollars into the cash drawer each day:

Anxiously keeping your fingers crossed and hoping that this Christmas season will be “The One”?  The one that makes up for the disappointing seasons of the past … the one that really pushes you over the top and makes your whole year a success … the one that makes you happy you got into this business in the first place?

Well, market indications are fairly positive right now.  It looks like people are ready to spend.  That should be good news, right?  Yet only some retailers are able to really capitalize on strong markets like this.  Why is that?

It's hard to believe Christmas is almost here.   Are you ready to make this a great selling season?   There's no reason why you can't sell more!   

Here are 5 things we think you need to get on top of right now if you haven't already:

A common situation for almost every retailer during this time of year.  How do we successfully man the oars’ during this tidal wave of customers?  Whatever you do, understand how important this process is to your success.  Doing it right (or not!) will dictate whether you ‘sink or swim’!

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