With only 1 Saturday left for shopping, you need to make the most of every opportunity. Double up on social media, customer service, and merchandising. Here’s a quick recap of what you should be doing during this last week of a very short resale shopping season.
What’s the one thing shoppers can’t get at a big box store? Personal service. In my 4th Quarter Marketing Tips, I encourage store owners to concentrate on the customer. Shopping mayhem and employee weariness get in the way of phenomenal customer service. Make sure this is still your focus. Encourage your employees to keep smiles on their faces. Remember, even a small gift like pastries in the morning, pizza in the afternoon, or even just a hand-written thank you note can go a long way to cheer up your staff. If not already, be an active participant on your sales floor. Go the extra mile.
Hashtags are the perfect way to get in front of shoppers during this short resale shopping season. Create your own store hashtag as well, this allows for all your posts to be found in one place and can encourage your customers to use it. You can create multiple hashtags with different purposes, such as a hashtag for your sales. Using trending hashtags is an excellent way to gain more followers, this is because Instagram allows you to follow hashtags. Not only do they do that, but they also let the user know when they have liked multiple pictures with the same hashtag to encourage them to follow the hashtag. Finding popular hashtags is the key to growing an Instagram following, here are some popular holiday hashtags.
Your store needs to be spotless during this season. Assign the task of checking on dressing rooms, clearing your cash wrap, and maintaining the racks and shelving throughout the day. Part of excellent customer service includes the organization and look of your store.
Even though this is your busiest season, it’s still the best time to add contact information for new customers. With SimpleConsign, a cashier can add a new customer directly from the Checkout Tab. Every cashier should be asking if a customer wishes to receive notices about special events and sales to gain contact information.
Billions are lost each year to shoplifting. Stay vigilant. Post signs that say “Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted.” Remind your salespeople what your procedure is when a shoplifter is suspected.
If you enjoyed reading this, here are more holiday ideas.
The Academy was birthed out of a desire to help resale businesses succeed. Our customers understand buying and selling. Pricing items and knowing a bargain come easily. However, understanding marketing, merchandising, building a sales team, and many other business ideas is another story. Here are just a few Resale Academy takeaways.
Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are consumer anthropologists. Nationally-known speakers in the retail industry, we brought them to the Resale Academy. According to Kizer & Bender, customers seek “information, inspiration, and ideas.” Gone are the days of telling them and they will buy. You need to become a customer advocate. In other words, show your customers you’re on their side. View your business from their perspective. Have the information they need. Give amazing service.
Did you know 50% of your shop is never seen by shoppers? Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender encouraged shop owners to take a closer look at their “Impression Points.” For example, review areas like your front door and front window. Change your speed bumps weekly. In addition, your checkout area should pop with color and signage. Your sightlines must be clear.
The one-time consignment store owner, Angie Houloose, also spoke. She taught about creating a winning culture through leadership. Angie has developed the “OBVI Project.” Through your leadership, the store culture you desire is obtainable. Refine your values and vision for your store.
In marketing, the first moment of truth (MOT) is the moment your customer first interacts with your store. It’s their first impression. You have less than 10 seconds. There are several moments of truth. In fact, there’s even a zero moment of truth.
Imagine a circle. In it, you place everything a resale store needs to operate. For instance, you need an inventory, customers, a cash register, etc. Now, place a larger circle around the first. Add the extras that aren’t necessary, but set you apart from other stores. As you build circles of excellence, customers begin to expect it from you. Therefore, constantly change and build that outer circle to add value and excitement.
The Academy was a resounding success. Attendees said, “It rejuvenated me.” “I needed to be inspired & motivated.” “They knew their stuff.” SimpleConsign users … we’ll be back next year!
If you enjoyed reading this, click here for more.
For a few years, before I came to Traxia, I worked as the Children’s Ministry Director at our church. I headed a team of almost 50 volunteers to teach and nurture the children. Together, we ran everything from weekly lessons to summer Vacation Bible Schools and Christmas pageants. My team ranged from teenagers to 70-year-olds. Because they were volunteers, I felt a special need to be their cheerleader. How well do you know each one of your employees? How do you build a top-notch consignment store team?
I have quirks. It’s hard to believe, I know. Do not expect anything out of me before 10 am, but know I’m still working at 11 pm. I consider myself creative, but I like guidelines. The desire for perfection is my weakness. How well do you know your consignment store team’s personalities? It makes all the difference. Recently, Hubspot published 5 types of Personality Tests to Help You Learn About Your Team. They range from an in-depth Myers-Briggs test to The 5-Minute Personality Test. Making one of these tests a routine part of your hiring process helps you hire the best candidate. For instance, The 5-Minute Personality Test breaks people into either Lions, Otters, Golden Retrievers or Beavers. Knowing where your team falls, you’ll discover if you’re running a zoo or a consignment store.
At our quarterly volunteer training meetings, I always added a few team-building games. The very fact that you play games, builds a closer team. Download each of these and give them a try!
Just as there are fun team-building games, there are also fun sales training exercises. Getting your team to practice selling should be a regular habit. Download these exercises and keep them handy the next time you do training.
If you enjoyed reading this, click here for more.
During my early years as a salesperson, our sales training involved listening to multiple Zig Ziglar tapes. That guy was the cheeriest man I ever listened to. The number one lesson I learned was to always put myself in the customer’s shoes. That person is always thinking, “What’s in it for me?” According to The Retail Doctor Blog, I’ve been asking all the wrong questions during my lengthy years of selling. Have you or your employees asked your consignment shoppers these questions?
Now, when I first read this I thought, “Well, why wouldn’t I ask that question?” The usual response you receive is “fine” which immediately ends the conversation. Plus, The Retail Doctor asked, “Do you really care?” Of course I care. Well, sometimes I care. Okay, so maybe I don’t really care, but what am I supposed to ask instead? The first communication you have with your consignment shoppers sets the tone. Vend suggests having a variety of greetings on hand. Ask, “Are you enjoying your afternoon?” If you recognize the shopper, ask “What brings you in to see us again?” Finally, try and find something you like and genuinely say, “I like your … (shoes, coat, scarf, etc.) Where did you get them/it?” I certainly love it when I’m surprised by a cheery salesperson. Or, when I hear “My pleasure” after I order my chicken sandwich at a Chick-Fil-A. So, it’s time to get more creative as you greet those consignment shoppers coming in the door.
A customer often gives the rote response of, “I’m just looking” and then the conversation is completely dead. As The Retail Doctor points out, not every shopper is looking for something but all shoppers do have a problem. Whether it’s the need to kill 30 minutes of time before a meeting, or they’re looking for the perfect dress for an upcoming event, they have a problem that you need to fix. So what questions should a savvy sales associate ask? For furniture consignment, ask “What room gets a makeover today?” For clothing consignment, ask “What special event are you shopping for today?” A children’s resale shop should ask, “Which color…pink or blue?” Make the shopper give you more than a “yes” or “no” answer to keep the conversation going. If you still get the “I’m just looking” response, try and make another connection. Ask “Would you like a basket?” or “Would you like me to hold your cup of coffee at the counter so you can shop easier?”
Although the intention of connecting with your consignment shoppers is good, you’re starting off with a negative. As Vend writes, “Every interaction should be positive.” Try instead, “Are you managing to stay dry with all this rain?” Or, “Are you enjoying all the sunshine we’ve been having?” Vend also stresses the importance of “reading” your customers. Watch their body language. Are they shy? Then, they will be uncomfortable with too many questions. Pick up on verbal cues. Is their tone angry? Find something to genuinely compliment them about. Always make eye contact.
I’ve never experienced a natural disaster, personally. However, my sweet 96-year-old mother, Ruth, still remembers the St. Louis tornado of 1927. Just 5 days after her 5th birthday, she recalls being firmly placed in the middle of the bed by her grandmother. “Now, don’t move,” her grandma instructed. “No matter what, stay here.” Her grandma promptly left to retrieve Mom’s older sister, Dorothy, at school. Alone, Mom heard the almost 90 mph wind gusts. Glass popping and breaking. She felt the walls shaking in their little 4-family flat. After more than 90 years, the experience is still as fresh as if it were yesterday. Fortunately, in their case, everyone was safe.
Now is the time to create your consignment store disaster recovery plan.
Mariners have a clever way of remembering hurricane season. Follow along.
Did you know that the most common disaster is a power outage? Your local energy company often has the power up and running within a few hours, but there are times when it can be off for days sometimes even weeks. Be prepared with flashlights, a battery-powered radio and extra batteries. That’s a simple fix if everyone knows where they are kept. Check power strips. Do you have a surge protector? The beauty of web based software, like SimpleConsign, is you can still access your information on your phone if need be. Plus, we’ve backed up your data so nothing is lost!
Does your shop have a designated safe area or room? Is there one nearby in your community? Determine an area where you, your staff and customers should go in the event of a hurricane or tornado. If your shop has a basement area, map out the location that is safest. If no basement exists, decide which part of the interior of your shop could be used as a safe area.
Should you add business interruption insurance to your disaster recovery plan? This form of insurance will compensate you based on your previous financial records for the loss of income you incur in case of a disaster. The amount is determined by the type of business, the building structure of your shop and any other risk factors such as location, etc. Know what disasters aren’t covered. Furthermore, learn how to file your claim quickly.
Would you be able to quickly move your merchandise into another location? A complete disaster recovery plan takes into consideration that your fast-acting sales team will be ready to move any salvageable merchandise. They need to know where to take it though. Do you have an alternative location available? Even if it’s in your basement, your team knowing could make all the difference between re-opening or closing your shop for good. Before moving anything, make sure your insurer doesn’t require an on-site visit first.
Your consignor contract should already state that you’re not responsible for items that are lost, stolen or destroyed due to a disaster. With a web based system such as SimpleConsign, you’ll have consignor names and their inventory at your fingertips. Communicate with your consignors/vendors as soon as possible. Use email, social media and if possible, texts to clearly state the extent of damage and how it will affect them and their items.
The Red Cross provides a wealth of disaster-preparedness supplies. Order Emergency Backpacks that can easily be stored in your back office. Also, have at least one member of your team certified in CPR. Check your local Red Cross for class listings. Their site lists a variety of extra supplies they recommend you have such as water, matches, extra clothing, etc.
Be aware of what particular disasters could or have happened in your area. Check out government sites for a ton of information to help create your consignment store disaster recovery plan. Their plan prepares you particularly for natural disasters. They offer a wealth of information from planning ahead to coping with the aftermath. The site also offers suggestions for a basic disaster supplies kit.
A plan is only as good as the paper it’s written on if it isn’t communicated. Create a disaster-preparedness notebook. Keep it in plain sight in your back room and make sure every employee is aware of it. In times of trauma, it’s hard to remember the plan. Brief your staff completely on your disaster recovery plan. They need to know what to do if the disaster occurs while at the shop or if it occurs during off hours. If the disaster affects your entire community make sure you have a way to communicate with your staff members so you’ll know they are safe. Since texting uses less bandwidth than actual phone calls, set up the ability to send a group text. It will be the easiest method of communication. Consider adding the number of their close relative or friend too. List them under ICE (In Case of Emergency). The psychological toll a disaster can take on you and your staff can be overwhelming. Their well being is of course your first concern.
As an example, when Trader Joe’s in New Jersey had their roof collapse under more than 2′ of snow in 2016, they quickly communicated with their 160 employees and loyal customers. They stated they would be rebuilding in a “realistic time frame.” They even attempted to find employment for interested workers at other locations. In less than a year, they re-opened with employee-designed wall art and a stronger commitment to the community. Your consignment store disaster recovery plan needs to take you all the way through the beginning to the end so you meet everyone’s expectations.
At a time when my main job (and hardest job) was a stay-at-home Mom, I scoured the internet for ways to make a little extra money. I filled out countless surveys, only to learn at the end they were no longer looking for anyone in my “age bracket.” I entered a ton of contests, writing endless testimonials. Later on, I studied up on my coupon skills hoping to become TLC’s next Extreme Couponing guru. Ultimately, my biggest success was as a Secret Shopper.
A Secret Shopper is someone sent “undercover” to pose as a potential customer. As an undercover shopper, one has to painstakingly provide detailed notes. In fact, I would run to my car afterwards and start writing down as much as I could for fear I’d forget. The questions ranged from the time it took to greet me to the friendliness of the sales rep. I described their appearance, their tone of voice and even our eye contact.
Bob Negen from Whizbang Retail Training wrote, “Using a secret shopper program is our favorite way to find out what kind of experience your customers are REALLY having…even when you’re not around.” He suggests hiring one to get information on the following:
Yes! Just knowing there could be a potential shopping spy wandering about is enough to keep your sales team on point. Likewise, make sure you have the “shopper” visit on a day you’re not in the store so you’ll get the best representation of your employees.
To tell the truth, I never felt completely comfortable. I am a lousy faker. I wear all of my emotions on my sleeve for all to see. One time I even took my kids along to look a bit more believable. The bottom line, if you want specific information about the effectiveness of your sales team, hire a Secret Shopper. It was a great study in sales techniques. As an undercover shopper, I learned so much about what to do and definitely what not to do. Because I was required to answer a lot of questions, I paid really close attention. After all, no details meant no paycheck. If I’m gonna lie (pretend), I at least wanna get paid for it!
The school season is here. Between buying clothes, school supplies and dorm decorations, families are busy preparing. If you own a consignment shop, it’s time for you to head back to school too. It’s time to take Consignment Employee Training 101. Let’s review the basics of good training practices.
Do you have difficulty talking about yourself? Now’s the time to get over it. In 6 tips to build your secondhand store’s brand, I clearly state that you are your store’s brand. You can’t pretend 24/7 to be something you’re not. Your store reflects you. Share your story and your vision with every employee. What is your background? Why consignment? Where do you see your store in the future? Write both a mission and a vision statement. If you’re uncomfortable talking about yourself, create a Bio sheet that every new employee receives. You can’t ask employees to follow if they don’t know their leader.
Small businesses, including consignment stores, should excel at offering attentive service. It’s what sets you apart from the big box stores. Bob Negen, from Whizbang! Retail Training, calls it the “ahhhhh!” experience. Surprising the customer with an unbelievable shopping experience. Here’s what he suggests your salespeople do:
Train your employees to bring the “ahhhhh!” experience and they’ll be making sales left and right.
Again, Bob Negen says, “Sell outfits not items. Sell rooms not items.” A good salesperson asks the questions that get to the problem the shopper is trying to solve. In 5 traits of highly effective salespeople, I share a personal experience with one of the most effective salespeople I’ve ever met. He was an excellent listener and went over and above taking care of me. In most stores today you can hardly find a salesperson much less one that’s friendly, attentive and truly knowledgeable. That kind of employee will make a lasting impression on anyone entering your store.
Summer is drawing close. It’s the season for weddings, vacations and time home with the kids. Plus, employees need time for pet bereavement, “unsick” days and protesting. Wait. What? Yes, believe it or not, companies like Facebook and Google give employees paid time off for those things too. As the weather heats up, negotiating employee time off becomes a hot topic. Prepare yourself ahead of time with these 4 tips.
Of course, you would never employ salespeople you don’t trust. Trusted employees become ambassadors for your store. They invest themselves in your business and become a part of it’s success. However, along with trust, an employer needs to invest in their staff personally. Your staff will “go the extra mile” when you acknowledge there’s life outside of work. In their article, Employee relations – Inspiring loyalty, the HR firm Executive Advantage stresses the importance of making a connection with your employees. “Connection involves reaching into the employee’s heart and finding their passions, talents, core values and motivations,” they write. When you make that personal investment, negotiating employee time off becomes a matter of what’s best for the business first. Unfortunately, some will abuse your trust, but a loss of freedom changes that quickly.
If you already have a written policy in place, you’re miles ahead. Your employees want to know you’re a fair employer. So the best way to communicate is to spell everything out in writing. An employee training manual that states your policies regarding duties, sales procedures and requests for time off is essential. List any dates that are exempt from vacations such as the shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Explain how vacation time is accrued. Most of all, indicate clearly what is a reason for paid time off. Pet bereavement, anyone? WhizBang Training writes, “In your employee training manual, make it clear that schedule requests are just that – requests – not a given.” The bottom line, everyone should be asking how an employee’s absence affects service to your customers. Make sure you include the following in your written policy:
Advanced scheduling is beneficial for everyone. However, allowing your employees to trade shifts with one another has its benefits. Give them greater control and you reinforce your trust in them. This method can only be used when you have a mature and responsible staff. Make it clear that all shift changes must be approved by the store manager first. Plus, both employees must be able to perform the same duties. There are inherent problems with allowing shift trades, but the freedom it allows your staff offers other rewards.
Self-scheduling is another method of handling time off requests. Once again, it requires mature and completely trustworthy employees. To implement this type of scheduling, post available shifts and allow employees to select times. Post your requirements beforehand.
Obviously, only a seasoned staff who understands your store and how to sell your merchandise can appreciate schedule challenges. To find trustworthy employees, read The ultimate guide to finding the best part-time employees. Successfully train your employees and you’ll have a group of sales professionals ready to take responsibility and work even harder for you.
Building a rock star sales team is not an easy challenge. It takes time, dedication and lots of patience. There are a few skills that every good sales team needs though. Because each of your salespeople represents your entire organization, make sure these 10 customer service tips are part of your regular sales training.
The more your sales team knows about your merchandise and your store, the more they will sell. The majority of shoppers that enter your store have already done a little research. If not, they’ll get on their phones and do it while they’re in your store. Your sales team needs to be aware of the facts beforehand. If your price is higher, point out the quality. If your price is lower, you’ve just made a sale!
The word on the street is “never pray for patience because you will always receive a reason to be patient.” That’s so true. How does someone learn patience? By going through situations that require patience, of course. Teach your salespeople patience-building techniques such as taking deep breaths, counting to 10 and purposely slowing down. Help your staff recognize signs of fatigue and dehydration. Remind them, patience is a choice.
A calming presence can go a long way in diffusing an argument. Staying cool under pressure can be the difference between a satisfied customer or a horrendous Yelp! review. Your sales staff needs to be in control at all times. It’s their job to get the out-of-control customer under control. Self-control also refers to an individual’s personal life. Does someone on your sales team struggle with an addiction? Anger? Insecurity? Take the time to invest time in their lives. You and your company will be the better for it.
Last fall, I wrote an article titled, How to implement genuine resale clienteling. Clienteling is all about getting to know your customers individually. It’s keeping track of their buying habits and “wanna have” lists. Building relationships with a salesperson’s best customers should be on the top of the training list for 2018. When it’s so easy to get online and order, a personal relationship with a sales rep will make all the difference in closing the sale.
Can your really teach authenticity as one of your customer service tips? I believe you can. Being real. Sincere. Empathizing with a customer. Practicing what you preach. Sharing life stories. These are qualities that make a good salesperson. Teach your staff to find a point of connection with a shopper. Did they enter the store with children? Talk to the kids. Can you genuinely find something to compliment them on? Do it!
A good salesperson not only knows how to sell the product, but how to sell the sizzle as well. Persuasion doesn’t make people buy what they don’t want. The art of persuasion helps a shopper realize they can’t live without it. Don’t sell a couch. Sell a gathering place for friends and family. Don’t sell a dress. Sell an image of professionalism or elegance.
Tact and diplomacy are 2 characteristics that are vital for a strong sales team. Consignment store representatives particularly need a good dose of diplomacy as they deal with not only the shopper but the consignor too. Diplomacy centers around understanding the thoughts and needs of others. It’s putting yourself in “someone else’s shoes” so to speak. As Isaac Newton stated, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”
How often have you entered a store and no one even speaks to you? An enthusiastic salesperson greets shoppers the minute they come in the door. They make the customer feel welcome and wanted. Their enthusiasm should spread to your merchandise as well. Read 5 traits of highly effective salespeople to learn just how important enthusiasm can be in making the sale.
Paying close attention not only makes the customer feel special, it also gives a salesperson verbal and physical cues that the shopper is looking for more. It’s essential to ask questions. To rephrase what the customer is looking for. Read How to increase consignment sales with active listening and learn about using the “hot button” sales technique.
Your customer service tips have to include confidence. The only way you can offer confidence is to teach the other 9 tips listed. Shoppers rely on the confidence of the salesperson waiting on them. Giving your team the knowledge they need and teaching them patience, diplomacy and attentiveness will increase their confidence in sales.
A fresh start. A new beginning. A clean slate. We always begin a new year confident we’re going to do better than the last. This year, resolve to make the necessary changes to your business within the first 30 days. No delay. Here are 6 areas you may need to concentrate on.
Success for brick and mortar revolves around top notch customer service. You need a team that’s committed to your vision. To build commitment in your employees, show dedication first. Invest in training in 2018. Improve communication. If you have employees who are not team players, it’s time to cut the cord. Read The ultimate guide for hiring the best part-time employees. Reduce employee turnaround and theft by sincerely caring about your team. Read How to nurture your best and most motivated employees. Strengthen them and the rewards will be great.
Are you confident you’re offering the type of merchandise your market wants? If not, now’s the time to find out. Your consignment resolutions must include reviewing your top-selling items, top consignors and customers. Update the list of items you will and won’t accept from your consignors. Create a written policy and stick to it. Read How to improve your resale shop’s inventory with 1 word, okay maybe 2. If you’ve accepted merchandise that isn’t selling, mark it down and move it out. Resale as a whole needs to up its game if we are going to compete for retail dollars. Let Goodwill, Savers and the Salvation Army take care of merchandise that is donate-only quality. Consider carefully how you want to be viewed and build your brand through the type of items you sell.
Here’s where you need a critical eye. Stand outside and take a serious look at your store. Is your signage clear? Are the windows clean? View the entrance of your store as a first-time shopper would. When you enter, is it cluttered? Does the shopper know immediately where to go? How does your shop smell? We get used to the everyday smells of our homes and businesses, but they may not be appealing to others. Commit to a regular schedule of cycling merchandise through your store with a sales rack placed in the back. Look at your ceiling and your floor. Can you improve the lighting? Even a change in paint color on one wall can make a store feel fresh and new. Read 6 quick and easy changes that will improve store design.
This year, create an event calendar. Assign a staff member to be in charge of each major event you will be hosting. Have them prepare their email campaigns and social media strategy in advance. Remember, consistency is key. It’s better to dominate 2 or 3 media outlets than do a little in every one of them. Read Consignment marketing on a tight budget. Consider adding direct mail to your marketing mix. A postcard or 2 with a coupon could be just the incentive someone needs to try your store. Collect as many email addresses as possible and begin segmenting those into smaller groups. The open rate for emails with targeted messages is always much higher. Look for new ways to advertise such as Facebook Live.
This year, add at least one new item that will improve business operations. Whether it’s a new POS system (ahem, such as SimpleConsign), new label or receipt printers, or a time clock system for your employees, upgrade now. How is the efficiency of your cash wrap? What about your intake process? Be willing to shake it up and make the necessary changes.
Even though this is the last consignment resolution listed, don’t wait to take care of your physical and mental health. Create a calendar. Add time for yourself away from the store. Treat it like it’s an appointment. Working smarter, not harder isn’t just a catch phrase. It means you are recognizing the need to delegate and trust the employees you’ve hired. Set boundaries for yourself. Read How to beat the resale business owner blues.
This post was revised from an original post on December 26, 2014