Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer in the states. The kids are either back in school or will be soon. Fall doesn't officially begin until September 22nd, but as we transition from the unofficial end to summer to the official beginning of autumn, here are six actions managers and owners can take to transition profitably.
1. Blowout the last of your
summer product. I'd rather get twenty or
thirty cents on the dollar now than pack up product and store it until next
summer. I would hold a big sidewalk sale this weekend, and keep marking
the summer products down until they're gone. By Monday afternoon I'd be giving
the stuff away. Once it goes out on the sidewalk it never comes back.
Do the same with those old dog products you're tired of looking at, too.
2. Throw an "Ode to Summer" party. This weekend is a great opportunity to differentiate your store(s). While others are doing the same sale they do every holiday, and some every weekend, you can create a fun and engaging store experience with your customer.
Have fun with your party. Serve up food and drinks. You could have the staff dressed in summer apparel. Create some fun in-store specials that link to your theme and engage your customers. For example, offer a special price on select products if the customer shares his/her favorite summer memory.
3. Do an end of summer business debrief. Take a few minutes and brainstorm what worked and didn't work this summer. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Were there any marketing or product opportunities you missed or shouldn't have done? How about operationally? Did the staff vacation schedule work out?
Try to capture as much information as you can and file it away for next year. I like to put a note in my calendar as an appointment with a reminder that pops up in mid-spring. Investing a few minutes to capture that information while it's fresh in your mind can make a difference in next year's performance.
4. Get your staff focused on fall sales opportunities. September and October not only offer retailers many opportunities, but it's important to do well then so stores have momentum going into the holiday season. Crank up the contests, do some sales practice and roleplaying, and coach your staff to maximize every customer, every day.
Next few weeks
5. Get moving on filling your seasonal staff pool. Early to Mid-September may seem too early to be thinking about holiday seasonal help. . . but it's not. Sure you can wait, but you want to tie up the good ones now. Your goal should be to have your seasonal team identified and hired by mid- to late October. If you want to be the best store with the best seasonal team, then you need to get those great seasonal employees hired before your competition snaps them up.
To "stock" your pool, first decide who from last year's team you'd like to see back. Next, determine if there are any former employees that have gone on to other jobs or school who might be interested in coming back for a seasonal position. Finally, be on the lookout for other prospective seasonal employees.
Don't forget to pay attention to your customers and retail help in other stores you visit. Make stocking your seasonal hiring pool a priority and by the time fall rolls around you'll be ready to tie up your seasonal staff. Then you can laugh as you walk past all those other stores advertising for seasonal help.
6. Finalize staff vacation plans through the end of year. This is some of the best advice I was ever given. Invariably, it seems that many people realize about the middle of October that they have vacation time they need to use. Since many retailers black out the holiday season for vacations everyone ends up trying to use up those days before the vacation blackout. Getting your staff to finalize the rest of the 2012 vacation schedule now will ensure everyone will get their time off without compromising your ability to cover the store. The best part is that your staff will be rested and ready for the crucial holiday season.
Good-bye summer and hello fall. Okay, I'm not ready for that. Hello Labor Day!
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their results. Visit our Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create an extraordinary experience and results.