The first two weeks in December are some of the most challenging days of the season. It seems the store is either extremely slow or exceptionally busy. The customers who are in the store seem to either buy up a storm or storm off when you try to help them. What's a staff to do?
I'll start with the easy part, a hopping store full of buyers. It's times like this that make working retail during the holidays so much fun. Here are some tips to ensure as much money as possible makes it into the register. I know you've heard these all from me before but December is a good time for a refresher course.
1. When showing a customer different products always give your opinion on which one he should buy. Even better, suggest he buy all of them.
2. Remember the Butcher rule; always show the best product first.
3. Never ask "Will there be anything else?" That's code for, "You're done, right?" Instead, ask who else is on your customer's shopping list. Keep asking questions and suggesting products until the customer says he/she is done.
4. Don't bring the customer to the counter until she tells you she is done shopping. If the customer has several products in her hands and you want to help her out do not say, "I'll put these behind the counter." Don't even mention the word "counter" or "register." Instead say, "Let me hold these for you while you continue to shop."
Now, about those slow days and the "just looking" crowd. Try these tips to turn the browsers into buyers and the register into singers.
1. Do NOT ask the customer how you can help him. I was in a mall over the weekend and was shocked at how many times I was asked that question. You know the answer, why bother to ask the question?
2. Do welcome the customer and tell her about your store's holiday specials. "Hi, welcome to ABC Kitchen Supply. We have some amazing holiday specials including a buy two get one free." What you follow-up with depends what works for you personally and your customer's reaction to your welcome.
3. If the customer appears to be open to your engagement you might ask him how he'd doing on his shopping list or if he's treating himself to something. Use however the customer to ask a follow-up question. Suppose the customer says, "Well, the good news is that I'm almost done with my shopping." You could respond with, "Congratulations. I'd love to show you a few things to help you complete it. Who's left on your list?"
4. During this time in the season you need to be persuasive and proactive in moving the customer into your products. I'm not saying to be overbearing or obnoxious but you can't be passive and just ask people if they need to be helped. As one fiery retailer in Las Vegas says, you can work it or clerk it. The key to "working it" is to display passion, energy, and a true interest in the customer.
So whether the store is crazy busy or you're crazy the store is so slow, be sure and maximize every opportunity with every customer.