Three Steps To Sales Building-A Blue Print For Success
Building sales in a sustained fashion involves focus on three areas of the operation- Product selection, presentation of those products and customer service. In other words provide the customer with the products that they want, position those products so they are attractive and appealing and deliver them with service excellence. All easier said than done.
Each of these areas of focus must work in conjunction with each other. The most popular product may not sell if it is not presented properly and no products will move off the shelves if customer service is non-existent.
The operator needs to take a deep breath, a step back and look at each area in an organized and systematic way. The first step is to determine product selection. This simply means to give the customer what they want. Learn what your customers want by doing your homework. Study sales receipts, quantity sold totals on your point of sale systems and simply asking your guests what they prefer. The more detailed the information you can extract from your point of sale system and the more feedback you can get from dialogue with your guests the more data you will have to make the right product decision. Tip: Have a key or code for each item you sell so you can track it more easily. Having things rung up under miscellaneous will not provide any solid information when it comes to decide on what to offer to your customers.
One small business operator, after asking her customers what they needed, found that they really wanted her to stock some convenience items to help save them a stop on their way home from work. Milk, eggs, bread and several sundry additions based on customer requests turned her late afternoon business into the most profitable part of the day. She simply listened to her customers and gave them want they wanted. It is also interesting to note that while they were picking up their gallon of milk the customers also purchased some snack items for their drive home. This operator by reacting to the customer’s request actually added another segment to her business-she called it the stop by on the way to the parking lot meal period.
Other ideas for deciding what to offer include using your purveyors as resources to explore new products. The operator may identify the popular category of products and then look for new items to spark interest by the customer. For example, if cookies are a popular snack item according to quantity sold records then this category is a prime candidate for the introduction of additional selections. The information tells us that the customers like cookies so we have a pretty good chance at moving some new selections.
The second step to building sales is deciding how to present these items to the customers. This step involves formulating a detailed plan to insure that the physical display and the entire front of the house operation is in top shape. The following checklist is offered as a guide to insure product presentation is done in such a way as to promote the appeal and thus sale of the displayed product:
Product Presentation Checklist:
- Cleanliness of Front of the House-All Areas-Display-Point of Sale Equipment-Counters-Lighting-Floors-Walls and Ceiling
- All Products Displayed in a Logical and Orderly Fashion
- Shelves and Shelving-Spotless and Organized
- Pricing Displays-Clean and Accurate
- Signs-Up to Date-Accurate Information-Clean-All Old Signs Removed
- Shelf Space for Products-Neatly Arranged-Spaced Properly
- Products Lined Up Properly and In Order
- Merchandising Information-Clean and Up to Date
- Bundling Opportunities Maximized-Example: One Price-Soda and Chips Combo
- Magazines and Newspapers Displayed in An Orderly Fashion
This checklist should be used on a regular basis to insure that the products offered to customers are always displayed in the most marketable fashion. If the display looks clean, with accurate information, and is placed so it is easy for the customer to select the product that item should make its way to the register with ease. Key: Always make it easy or convenient for the guest to choose a displayed product. If the customer perceives it to be difficult he/she will walk right on by the item. Using this checklist to assist in product presentation may include inviting your purveyors to comment on the positioning and display of products. One possible way to inspect your selling area is to invite one of your loyal customers to comment on how things look and how things are displayed. Have them take a tour of the operation and then solicit feedback on how things could look better or more appealing. The last and most critical step to building sales is customer service. This areas drives the first two steps. Without good customer service the selection and display of products really has no value. Customer service drives sales. The successful business operator must provide his/her guests with the Five C’s of Customer Service.
The operator must make his/her customers comfortable when they visit the operation. The customer must always be confident that the product and service will be superior. The product and service received must be consistent-the same level of excellence each time the customer visits the shop. The customer must be able to “have it their way”. The selection and process of selection must be convenient for the customer. Last but not least the customer must always be treated in a very courteous manner. Simply courtesy goes along way toward building long term relationships.
Selecting the right products, positioning them correctly and delivering them with service excellence is the formula for consistent and sustained sales building. The best advice on moving forward with your plan would be to select several of the suggestions from each category and create a timeline for implementation in your operation. Review the results upon implementation and then move to another suggestion or item on the checklists. Step back, take a deep breath and then begin the process. The reward is higher sales and best of all your customers will love you!