I was trying to get some work done today when I realized that I have come down with the malady Early Summer Doldrums. Early Summer Doldrums, also known as ESD, runs rampant in retail stores in mid-July.
We all seem to get it to one degree or another. The weather is beautiful, the ride to work is too short and we wish we were anywhere but at work. Our thoughts turn to upcoming or just completed vacations, cookouts, and other non-store activities. Of course the challenge is that those daydreams occur when we need to focus on work and customers.
Here are the five actions that managers and owners that can take to help treat Early Summer Doldrums.
1. Let people leave early if you have enough staffing. Getting out of work an hour or two early is great medicine for ESD. Being able to leave even fifteen minutes early can cure ESD until at least the next shift. The best part of letting someone go home early is that it also treats WSPM, an owner/manager condition known as Waning Summer Profit Margins.
2. Create fun contests and make sure the prizes include summer activities. A two-week sales or UPT contest with the winner or winners getting tickets to a baseball game or a concert is a great way to keep the staff engaged and focused on achieving desired results..
3. Leverage your schedule. One of the best ways to overcome ESD is to let those who are affected get some extra time away from the store. Stack someone's days off together so they get some extra time away or encourage someone to use a vacation day to extend their time away. Be as generous as possible with weekend days off WITHOUT compromising the customer experience.
4. Get the store into summer mode. Unless you're a high-end retailer I think most customers are okay with a store staff wearing more casual clothes in the summer. As a matter of fact, the Center for Retail Disease Control has been able to trace back ESD pandemics to excessive unseasonable wearing of neckties and pantyhose.
5. Treat the malady with fun. Get someone to cook out some burgers and dogs and bring them in to the store on Saturday. Create Saturday theme days and hand out cold lemonade while summer music is playing.
Here are some tips to turn ESD into ESSB - Early Summer Sales Boost
6. Talk to customers about their summer vacation plans. Talking about upcoming vacations is a great way to snap out of ESD. By talking about vacations with your customers you also are able to explore how your products can enhance their vacation. It also puts people in a more relaxed mood and we know the more relaxed your customer is the more likely he/she is to make a purchase.
7. Plan a staff summer outing or cook-out that may or may not include the staff's family. A staff outing or a cook-out is a great way to get your staff out of the store and build a stronger team. Summer is a great time to relax and hang out outside the store. The stronger your team the more likely you are to achieve your sales goals.
8. Create summer-themed customer events. There's no need to wait for holidays to throw a fun event, every day can be a holiday in the summer! This works especially well in mall stores where customers walk in and out of boring stores that are infected with EDS. What can you regularly do that will have your customers leaving your store carrying their purchases and talking about how much fun it was to shop in your store?
9. Make sure managers are immunized against EDS. EDS is easily transmitted but studies have shown that when managers and owners are carriers the disease is passed on faster and with greater consequences. Managers can avoid EDS and stop it's transmission in the store by staying focused on engaging the staff, keeping them focused on customers, and continuing to improve their staff's skills and performance.
Not only is ESD treatable, but the treatment can actually increase your sales and profits.