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Salem business Journal

holidays are here...Are You ready?

When asking folks around town what they dread the most about shopping for the holidays, it usually boils down to two things...pushy crowds, and poor service. I get exhausted just thinking about it! So what can you as a business owner do to ensure that your customer has a positive experience while patronizing your establishment? Take these two points seriously! The following advise may seem elementary, however if

Lisa Franceschi 503-589-9150 lisa@withnellauto.com

Growing Your Business:

Ken Inlow

everyone practiced them, there wouldn’t be a problem, and there obviously IS always a problem during the holidays!

First, staff up! What causes pushy crowds and poor service? Lack of preparation on your part to provide adequate help. Don’t just hire as many people as you think you’ll need, hire more people than you think you’ll need. Why? Because it’s the holidays, and your employees will want to enjoy them too. There will be plenty of last minute calls from well meaning employees making that shuddering statement, “I won’t be able to make it in today.” You think they’re really sick? Probably not! There are always activities during the holidays that tempt folks away from their loyalty to you. So be ready for it. It will happen. Have a few folks on call, ready to chip in at the last minute. Temp agencies work well for that kind of thing, but you’ll need to make those arrangements well ahead of time. I can’t count the times business owners have apologized to me saying something like, “I’m so sorry, Petunia, our lead clerk, called in sick today, and we have three other people out as well.” Am I really expected as your customer to understand, when I’m racing the clock, trying to accomplish so much in so little time? I don’t think so. You should

never have to find yourself in that position.

Second, organize and label your most popular inventory in such a way so that customers can navigate easily through your store, finding the things they need without having to ask for help. Make sure prices are clearly marked and have signage well placed to direct people to various departments. People will be a lot happier when they know right where to go for what they want. You may even want to have someone stationed at the entrance of the store asking folks if they would like to be directed to a specific department or product. If checkout lines back up, have another staff person work the line from the floor to help process purchases more expeditiously.

Third, don’t wait till the end of the business day to clean up the place. Have one staff person sweeping through the store at all times, replenishing items on your shelves and straightening things up. There’s nothing worse than wandering through a messy store trying to step over products left carelessly on the floor or struggling with products returned to the wrong shelves.

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november 2006

Fourth, assign someone just to handle the phones. It is so irritating to have waited ten or fifteen minutes to get to the front of the line, only to have your clerk take a phone call just as you’re handing them your credit card. All of a sudden, the clerk has disappeared into the back somewhere, checking on the phone caller’s question, and there you are, stuck waiting to finish your transaction. Remember, there is no one more important than the customer in front of you. Don’t try to multi task. It’s counter productive.

Finally, no matter how busy you get, keep your cool and enjoy the process. Some customers may be a little edgy this time of year. That’s ok. Cut ‘em some slack. Remember, even though they might irritate you, they’ve probably got a pocket full of credit cards with plenty of room for holiday purchases. Make sure you do what it takes to get your UNFAIR share! Happy Holidays!

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