Phil Wrzesinski has a short list of things you need to improve sales at your IGC:
- Units per transaction
- Repeat and referral business
- Team member handbook
- New hire training procedures
- Training videos
- Continuing education
- Store policies favoring customers
Wrzesinski is a third-generation independent retailer with 24 years of experience, including heading his family business, Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Michigan. He shared his best practices for improving customer service and increasing sales at IGC Show in Chicago.
Customer service and sales go hand-in-hand Wrzesinski said. And customer retention comes from repeats and referrals. While repeat customers typically come from giving good service, referral business comes when you give over-the-top customer service, he said.
“If your repeat and referral doesn’t add up to at least 70%, you need to work on your customer service,” he said.
Tracking your business
But how do you track your repeat and referral business? Many retailers use loyalty programs to try to track customer purchases, but it’s an imperfect system, Wrzesinski said. At any grocery store, even the best loyalty program is only used by 48% of customers because the majority of people don’t want their information to be tracked.
Even asking customers what brought them into the store gives an inaccurate picture since oftentimes people don’t remember how they heard about you. Wrzesinski tried that method once, asking people what brought them to one of his talks. A majority of attendees said they read about it in the newspaper, but the talk had never appeared in any newspaper.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, he said. “What gets measured gets managed and what gets managed gets improved.”
Having a resource for employees to refer to when they have questions is critical to improving sales, Wrzesinski said. Spell out exactly what your employee policies, store procedures, special services and evaluations are. That way, employees can answer any questions customers might have about sales, returns or anything else.
“It’s complicated on our end so that it is easier on the customers’ end,” he said.
When you’re coming up with your policies and procedures, it’s important to think about the customer, not about yourself. He noted that while everyone has had a customer try to pull one over on them, but you can’t make your general policies about one or two bad customers.
For example, don’t refuse to take a credit card because of a fee. “You’re saying those pennies are more important than that customer,” he said.
Wrzesinski warned that you shouldn’t rush the handbook process, but once it’s done, you should take it to an HR lawyer to have it looked over.
Then, throughout the year, be sure to include any flyers or brochures you’re sending to your customers. That way, employees always know where to go to get the latest information.
Wrzesinski is a big advocate of hiring videos. “If you have a smartphone, you know how to create a training video,” he said.
To get started, don’t take yourself too seriously. Let your employees get involved and have some fun. “Don’t make it perfect. Let it have some character,” he said.
Once it’s done, post it somewhere everyone has access to it. Then you’ll know everyone has seen the same thing, and your staff will know where to go when they have questions.
Another great tool is a training checklist that each new hire has to get initialed by their trainer. “Then you have accountability,” Wrzesinski said. “If the trainee doesn’t know how to do something, someone is accountable.”
Throughout the training, make sure the new hire has somewhere safe to practice what they’re learning. Assign someone to shadow them and provide feedback as they learn.
Even seasoned employees can benefit from regular training, especially on new products and procedures. “Will it be perfect? No. But it will be better than the stores that don’t,” Wrzesinski said.
He recommends starting meetings by telling attendees what the goal is by saying “This will be a successful meeting if …”
Then find the most fun way to make the meeting a success, he said.