Saturday, April 26, 2014

I Have a Money Tree

I have a Money Tree sitting on my desk. It promises me that if I give it sunlight, water it, and praise it, I will get money as if it grew on trees.

I don't know.

I have twelve other "Money Trees" in the store. They are named Ruth, Erica, Lakisha, Kristina, Kathy, Elaine, Amy, Jesse, Richard, Nate, Ken, and Missy.

I do know that if I give them Autonomy (sunlight - the trust that they can do their jobs without my constant hands-on supervision), Mastery (water - the training to improve and grow), and Purpose (praise - the reason we're here -  to make you smile), then they will get money in far greater quantities than any desk-sized tree.

You really should read Daniel H. Pink's book Drive. It made is making a world of difference for me.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS That is not an affiliate link for that book. I don't make money by promoting other people's books. If I make a recommendation, it is because I believe in the product. Pure and simple.

PPS I do like my Money Tree, though. It reminds me to go out and get some sunlight every now and then.

PPPS You buy plants that want to grow. Hire people who want to grow, too.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Don't Disturb the Bus Driver! (A Lesson from a High School Field Trip)

I went on a field trip with my son put on by his band teacher.

We saw the Detroit Symphony Orchestra do a Bugs Bunny show - they played the music while the cartoons played on the screen. (Kill the wabbit!!). Took me back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood.

We went to lunch at a fun restaurant in the ever-growing Midtown Detroit area where the city is beginning to rise from the ashes. The place was huge! The place was packed! (not even counting our group) The food was great!

We went to Hitsville, USA, the Motown Museum. I got to sing My Girl in the exact same studio where it was first recorded!

We went to the Detroit Institute of Art. I saw art from all the biggies - Van Goh, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Ruben, Picasso, Degas, Monet and more. Fascinating stuff!

We topped it off with a Detroit Red Wings game! Now that's a field trip!

Among the many rules handed down to the students and chaperones, the one rule emphasized quite regularly was, "Don't disturb the bus driver!"

The bus driver was not our tour guide. He was not our ticket dispenser. He was not our party planner. He was not there to answer questions or give advice. His job was to drive the bus, and drive it well. Period. End of story.

I know that I am guilty in my store of expecting all the staff to do all the jobs. But not all the jobs require the same skills. My office manager needs to be highly organized, neat, good at math, able to problem solve, with good follow-up and follow-through skills. Friendly? Yeah, that's helpful, but not required. Able to sell? Only in a pinch.

I could try to find someone who had those latter skills, but I might have to compromise on the skills I really want. Never do that. Never compromise on the perfect skills for the job.

First. you'll get both jobs done better. Second, a better job means the customers will be delighted more. With all deference to the Hokey Pokey, that's what it's all about.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS The best thing to do is to take each job in your business and write up a list of the most desirable skills for that job. Prioritize those skills, too. That way you know what you're looking for when you plan to hire someone to do the job. When you find someone who fits the values of your team and has those skills, move whatever mountain you need to hire him or her.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

You are in the Job of Persuasion

Your job is simple - to persuade.

Persuade the best people to work for you.
Persuade those people to do more for you than they thought possible.
Persuade your vendors to give you good terms for the best products.
Persuade your customers to visit you in droves.
Persuade them to part with their hard-earned dollars.
Persuade them to bring their friends back.
Persuade your banker to give you a loan.
Persuade your local media to give you a plug.
Persuade your city council to pass laws and ordinances in your favor.

My friend, and one of the most amazingly persuasive writers I know, Jeff Sexton, posted this video that he got from another friend, Tim Miles (who you all know coined the term Shareworthy and is the smartest man I've ever met when it comes to Customer Service.)

This will be 11 minutes and 50 seconds you will start and stop often to take notes and watch over and over again. You'll probably be using this at your next sales staff meeting (I am).

A couple million of your friends, colleagues and competitors have already seen it. You should, too.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS See if you can tell me which of the 6 techniques I attempted to use to persuade you to watch the above video. Yes, this applies to Sales & Customer Service. It also applies to Marketing & Advertising. It also applies to Hiring & Training. It also applies to Word of Mouth. You're always persuading. You might as well get good at it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

For the Win - Best Customer Service Stories!

You've heard me talk about Over-the-Top Customer Service. See it in action in this article from Mental Floss.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Bring a tissue. A couple are real heart-string tuggers.

PPS If you aren't willing to bend over backwards like these companies did, don't go complaining that no one ever brags about your "great" customer service, because it isn't all that good.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Getting Customers to Walk Those Last 20 Feet

"At the end of the day you'll get nothing for nothing." -Les Miserables

I'm on the planning committee for a new street festival that will happen this summer in downtown Jackson. It's a big one. Artists, Musicians, Restaurateurs, Local Brewers and Wineries, a Color Run and more.

Some of the merchants on the streets that will be closed are concerned. I hear comments like...
"These events never draw me any traffic."
"All these events do is close me down to my regular traffic."
"Too many street closures and I'll have to close, too."

Five thousand people walking past your shop and you can't do any business?!?

When you ask those who are complaining what they did to get those people the last 20 feet from street through door, the usual response is a blank stare.

Street closures for construction suck! Street closures for fairs and events can be a windfall... if you recognize that it is your job to get the customers from the street through your door.

If you do nothing, you'll get nothing.

You have to do something.
You have to do something special.
You have to do something that will move the needle for someone who came down to look at classic cars or taste local cuisine or peruse amazing art.
You have to do something that gets their attention, makes them notice you, be interested in you, desire your products and services, and make the purchase.

You can't reach them through radio or TV or email. They are 20 feet away. Right here right now. You have to go out and get them. You have to do something so amazingly wonderful that they drag their friends through the door with them.

That last statement could apply any time of the year. If you're not getting the traffic you think you should be getting, whatever you're doing to try to attract customers is pretty close to nothing in their minds. Time to up your game.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS One simple clue into what not to do to get them that last 20 feet... People at street fairs - especially ones involving art and food - spend like drunken sailors. You won't win them over with a sale or special price or discount nearly as much as you will by offering them something that matches their world view. They are already over-paying for food and drinks at these events. Entice them with something impulsive and fun and in line with their (your) Core Values. They are ready to overspend. Don't disappoint them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Teach What You Can Teach Part 2

In a follow-up to yesterday's post, today I taught two high school classes. They were Child Development classes and I taught about the importance of Play for child development and how to find the right toys (tools) for Play. I've now taught this class to high schoolers, new parents, mom's groups, and even a grandparents group.

For thirteen years I taught expectant parents and grandparents how to choose baby products at a class we did right in the store.

I do another talk called The Family that Plays Together, Stays Together that highlights how play and fun and laughter make you healthier and happier and strengthen the bonds of your family.

That's just three classes based on the knowledge I gained running my store.

I'm pretty sure a good shoe store owner could teach about the importance of posture and good walking habits.
I'm pretty sure a good jeweler could teach about how to care for precious stones or the best way to polish gold and silver and brass.
I'm pretty sure a good grocer (especially one who specializes in locally produced goods) could talk about GMO's and artificial sweeteners.
I'm pretty sure a good clothing store owner could talk about current fashions and trends in the clothing industry.
I'm pretty sure a good craft store owner could teach how to make something out of next-to-nothing.
I'm pretty sure a good health food store owner could teach about the difference in quality of certain vitamins and supplements.
I'm pretty sure a good bike shop owner could teach how to change your inner tube on your bike and other simple maintenance.
I'm pretty sure a good furniture store could teach the proper way to fix mars and scratches in a wood surface or how to get stains out of upholstery.
I'm pretty sure a good appliance store owner could teach about how to save energy while using appliances.
I'm quite certain a good hardware store owner could teach how to use tools safely and properly.

You're a great retailer. What can you teach?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS When you decide to teach, the next thing you need is an audience. I get some of my talks because I put it on my website. I get others because I put it on brochures in the store. I get the rest because I make it so much fun that people in those classes tell others about it. (Yeah, that thing we call word-of-mouth).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teach What You Can Teach

Question number one: What can you teach?

Make a list right now. Jot it down on a napkin. Tell it to Siri. What topic(s) do you know enough about that you feel you could teach it to someone who knows nothing?

Write. Down. Everything.

I can teach...

  • How to tie a shoe
  • How to squash a bug with a tissue
  • How to giftwrap a package
  • How to calculate the area of a square
  • How to buy the right toy
  • How to...

Question number two: What are you teaching?

You're qualified. Go ahead and teach. You don't need some fancy degree. You don't need someone's approval. You don't need permission from some authority. The only permission you need is from the student. You are an expert. You need to share that expertise with anyone who will listen.

Expertise garners trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships create sales.

Go ahead and teach what you can teach. Teach it to your staff. Teach it to your customers. Teach what you can teach to anyone who wants to learn. Believe me, there are a lot of learners out there who would love to know what you know.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS About half the population of shoppers is looking for an expert they can trust. When you become that expert that your customers trust, you win their loyalty. Half the population. That's a lot of people looking for you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Brick and Mortar Retail is Alive and Kicking!

According to a report from EMarketer, retail sales last year were a whopping $4.53 Trillion. Yes, with a T!

E-commerce was $264 Billion of that. That's 5.8%. Oh, and M-commerce - you know, those mobile apps that are the new hot thing you need to have that are going to eat the computer's lunch? M-commerce was only 0.9% of the total.

E-commerce and M-commerce continue to grow. And $264 Billion is a lot of cabbage. But contrary to what you hear, brick and mortar retail is certainly not dead. Over 90% is still being spent on the ground.

What are you doing to capture your share of that market?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I have heard from other sources that the e-commerce number is higher when you account for only goods and services that are bought in typical retail stores. I don't know the methodology EMarketer uses to determine their numbers, whether home sales or gasoline is included in the overall sales total. Since they are a company that caters to the e-commerce crowd, however, I'm going with their number. Even so, if e-commerce is truly 10-12% of retail as some claim, that means 88% is still done on the ground.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Sales Process Broken Down

This year I am leading my sales staff to water. Fortunately, they are not horses. They are drinking it up.

At our monthly team meeting I am breaking down the sales process into small, drinkable chunks.

In February we talked about Being Accessible. Customers don't like to approach a crowd of employees, especially ones engaged in chatter. We talked about positioning, where to stand to be most approachable, how not to congregate. We walked around the store with a clipboard in hand. Customers would rather approach a sales associate who seems engaged in other activities, than one who seems poised to pounce. The goal for the staff was to practice being more accessible.

In March we Listened. Too many people listen, not to hear, but to find a moment to break into the conversation. We did activities centered around Listening skills including repeating back what the other person said. The staff separated into pairs and shared with each other their favorite reasons for working here. Then the other person had to repeat it back to them and present it to the group. (Note: this is also a great way to boost morale. I have twelve team members and each one had someone else tell the group why they like working here.) Our customers do not come in for a product so much as for a solution. If you don't listen to the whole problem, you might sell them a product, but not the best solution. The goal for the month was to practice repeating back to the customer what she said.

Tomorrow we go inside Our Customer's Mind. We'll be exploring all the thoughts that may be going through a customer's mind while she is in our store. Empathy is one of the strongest tools for creating long-term relationships. The purpose is to get an understanding of where she is so that we can relate to her on her terms. Each customer is unique and is coming from a unique point of view. Knowing this helps my staff understand the importance of Listening even more, and helps them fashion better questions. Our goal will be to empathize more with our customers and continue improving our listening (and questioning) skills.

I'm already working on May (Suggestive Selling) and June (Closing the Sale), too.

Too many companies look at training as a One-and-Done thing. Train the new person. Send them out. They're good to go. I think we have to constantly be training. We have to constantly be trying to learn and improve. And we don't have to be in a hurry. One step at at time.

Roy H. Williams once told me that what successful individuals and companies have in common is a long horizon. They look well beyond this week, month or even year. Not only am I planning out the training for this year, I'm already formulating my thoughts for next year's theme.

If you're in this for the long run, you need to make sure you're planning out your training for the long run, too.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Send me an email and I'd be happy to share the activities we are doing to get these lessons across. If you want to plan your own meetings, I suggest you read Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend (free download) and use the Staff Meetings Worksheet.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Grow Your Business by Excluding, Not Including

"Without a doubt, networks yearn to be bigger and more inclusive. The challenge is to do that without losing what made them work."   -Seth Godin (read the whole post here)

As I was reading that statement from Seth, all I could think about was how this is probably the biggest mistake "networks" make - trying to be bigger and more inclusive at the same time. This may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to become bigger is to be less inclusive.


Yes, be more exclusive. Exclude those people who don't want something special, who only want to dicker and deal for a super low price. Treat your remaining customers as if they were your only customers. Treat them with the kind of special services you would give only to a select few. Treat them as though they were a celebrity, even royalty.

What does that look like? It might mean offering exclusive appointments. It might mean extending your hours for special sessions. It might mean hiring an extra sales person and training him or her in the art of royal treatment. It might mean having food and drinks available. It might mean a concierge service, a coat check, valet parking, white glove delivery. It might mean doing different things, unique things, stuff that no one else in your category does or would even do. It might mean treating each and every customer uniquely, in the way she wants to be treated. It definitely means doing things that make your customers say, "WOW!"

When you try to be more inclusive, you dumb it down and end up delighting no one. When you try to be more exclusive, you delight your customers to the point that they spend more and bring their friends back. 

When you understand that, you'll grow bigger. Just remember the last part of Seth's quote - grow bigger without losing what got you there in the first place.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Can't figure out what to do to be special? Start with this question... What would be the most crazy, over-the-top thing you could do to WOW your customer? Go there first and then dial it back until you get to something you think you can accomplish consistently that is above and beyond what she expected.