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Lisbiz strategies: Make your store rock over the holidays

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

November and December are often the slowest months for flooring dealers. If you’re a salesperson, they can also be the most depressing. While everyone else is partying and rushing around, you’re waiting for customers to come in and buy flooring.

Here’s a list of things you can do to draw customers and bring cheer to your store.

Have “dress up” days. Put on your “Sunday best” and throw a party. There’s no limit to what you can serve, but how about hot chocolate, apple cider or blood orange Italian soda? Play holiday music and enjoy the day. Have your staff make their favorite holiday cookies and invite your customers. Post an event on Facebook and invite all your friends.

Create your own events. If there isn’t anything going on in your area, start something. Your store can be the center of the fun. Not sure what to do? Ask yourself, “What would I need to come downtown?”

Decorate your store so it becomes the focal point of the block. Look up all of the holidays and decorate for all of them. If it were my store, I would have vendors outside selling green wreaths, Christmas trees, holly balls and holiday scents such as cinnamon and cloves.

Give out an extra gift with every installation or large flooring purchase. In November, we gave out turkeys or gift certificates to the supermarket. Whatever you give out should be wrapped in holiday paper.

You can get free perfume gifts from Macy’s, coffees, mugs from Big Lots. How about having a makeup artist from MAC or Sephora come in and do free makeovers through the holidays? How about free manicures? It’s likely you will get plenty of customers to sign up.

Take photos for your social media promos. Use Twitter and Instagram and blog about your holiday fun. This is the time for an email newsletter filled with cheer and specials for or after the holidays. Fill it with photos from events through the year.

Hire masseuses to give free massages in your store if customers buy something. Market these ideas on your social media platforms. It works in the airports; I’m sure it will work in your store.

Hold a New Year’s Day party. This is a perfect day to serve lunch, bring in a piano and have someone play holiday music.

Buddy up with other retailers. How about doing the 12 days of Christmas and give away gifts every day? Bring in a florist, have festive wrapping paper and holiday cards. Offer to wrap presents.

Go high end with your store decorations. Customers should see a shop that looks elegant and up to date, even if they don’t buy. If you want to sell better merchandise, the holiday season is a good time to show your customers what they can look forward to for the new year.

Start showcasing products for the new year.  How about highlighting some of your best sellers for the holiday season? Bring in drapes, paint samples and quilts. This is the year of fleece, so why not have your store decorated accordingly? You can give them away with a sale or as gifts. Fluffy robes and slippers are inexpensive and fun to give away.

Don’t forget our pet friends. You can give away toys, bowls, catnip, cat and dog coats and treats. Have a contest for the best-dressed pet.

Whatever you do, enjoy the holidays and plan for a profitable new year.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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My take: Who moved my cheese?

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By Steven Feldman

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.46.11 PMThere is a famous cheese store in my town. Well, famous to the people who live in the area or who used to live there. Now, what does cheese have to do with flooring? Absolutely nothing. And potentially everything. Retail is retail, and there are lessons to be learned wherever you seek them.

First, a little background. The Cheese Store opened in 1977. I’m sure many of you can identify being in business 40 years or longer. It was started by a man named Lou and is now run by his son. Second-generation ownership. Many of you can identify with that as well.

Back then it sold mostly cheese and nuts. Just like you once sold only carpet and vinyl. As time passed, The Cheese Store tried to diversify into other products such as oat bran bagels, fat-free cheeses and many specialty dietary products. Sort of like how you diversified over time into hardwood, ceramic tile and WPC.

The Cheese Store basically became a gourmet food store. In other words, selling things you could get somewhere else much less expensively. (No private labels like many of you have.) But they never changed their name, so the only people who bought these items were the people who were already in the store buying, yes, cheese. Sort of like how you have lost sales over the years because you didn’t evolve and only marketed yourself as Joe’s Carpet.

Then The Cheese Store hit the first of two home runs. It began selling naturally flavored varieties of iced coffee, and its popularity exploded. It became its most popular item. I’m sure that has happened to you over the years. Do I hear Stainmaster, anyone?

Its second home run was a product called hoop cheese. It was marketed as being low in fat, carbs, salt, etc. In essence, it was a dry cottage cheese. When you were a child your grandmother called it pot cheese. But no one buys pot cheese. Just like no one would ever order Patagonian toothfish in a restaurant, but Chilean Sea Bass is ordered as the day is long.

The hoop cheese was served in a plastic bowl. You could have it with raw vegetables, craisins, chick peas, you name it. There were all kinds of seasonings from red pepper flakes to a salt/pepper concoction. There was actually a hoop cheese bar.

The hoop cheese became the store’s go-to product. After all, who drinks iced coffee in the winter months? People crossed multiple town lines to get their hoop cheese. They’d come from far and wide. The Cheese Store was selling 600 pounds of hoop cheese a week.

And then it all came to a screeching halt.

The company that was supplying the hoop cheese was purchased by a conglomerate. The manual labor that went into processing this hoop cheese was replaced by mechanical labor. And the hoop cheese wasn’t so delicious any more. So people stopped buying the hoop cheese. Not only that, they stopped coming to The Cheese Store for the things they bought before there was such a thing as hoop cheese. Worse, they started telling their friends about the bad hoop cheese. Sort of like when your customer is dissatisfied and tells 10 friends and so on. Remember: It can take 30 years to build a reputation but only 30 seconds to destroy it.

The Cheese Store tried to find a new supplier. There were none. They tried mixing cottage cheese and farmer cheese. You know what you get when you mix cottage cheese and farmer cheese? I don’t know but it doesn’t taste so well.

The business suffered because a go-to product fell by the wayside. You all have your go-to products, too. One day a problem could arise with the product or manufacturer that can change the landscape forever. Be prepared for this. Have a contingency plan. Diversify. Because you never know when your cheese will go bad.

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Columbus Day: Are you hosting a sale?

Happy (almost) Columbus Day! For children across the U.S. the upcoming Monday holiday is a welcome “get out of school free” card, and that goes for a few lucky offices with grown-ups in it too.

Established as federal holiday in 1937, the celebration of patriotism has come to include a prominent American pastime: Shopping! A Google search of “2011 Columbus Day sales,” yields 82,700,000 results. Add “flooring” into the search bar and the number of results almost doubles to 148,000,000.

Carpet One in Maryland is one of the top results with a video on YouTube:

Continue reading Columbus Day: Are you hosting a sale?