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Killer Casualness at Retail

Furniture World Magazine
Volume 145 NO.3 May/June


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My dirty little word for this article is casualness. Casualness can kill. Kill sales, kill customer relationships, kill the upward trajectory and ultimate success of your business.

Recently, I was invited to an event to promote a software user conference. All told, about 250 retail partners were in attendance enjoying the host’s food and drink.

During this special session they unveiled the conference agenda and announced a big-name keynote speaker, all major financial investments for them.

The room was filled with their best users, customers, and partners at great expense. So, what was their big killer mistake, their sales-killing deed? It was, in my opinion, that they didn’t ask for the sale!

No order form was presented. They didn’t tell us about a website to visit to pay for our hotel and user fee. They had all of their partners’ credit card information on file, but there was not even a mention of actually purchasing a ticket to this event.

For the duration of the evening we were captives, held hostage by the law of reciprocity with great food and drink. But since they didn’t ask, they didn’t get.

It’s a cautionary tale since this level of casualness is akin to your retail store sending out a mailing to 50,000 homes touting your Grand Opening Sale, but neglecting to include your address, website, and an offer. I’m exaggerating, but casualness is the enemy of many a retailer. Never forget to make every point of contact include a reason to do business with you right here, right now.

Casualness exists everywhere. It exists in big “brand awareness” campaigns. I recently was witness to a large re-branding effort made by one of our bedding suppliers. The whole ad campaign was based on two photos. These were simple photos, with just a smattering of the actual product, and zero sales copy. If you were to take the name of the company off the bottom of the ad you would be hard pressed to see what this ad is for,
  • Women’s dresses
  • Women’s hats
  • Draperies
  • Carpets
  • Lamps
  • Luxury Home Sales
  • Boats
  • Luxury Travel
  • Hotel Sales
The question in my head as I watched the presentation, was what happens when this campaign becomes a copy cat victim by a larger company with a bigger ad budget?

If there is no “ask”, there will certainly be no “get.” Never be so casual that your customer needs to wonder what it is that you want them to do when looking at your ad.

So How Casual Are You?
Do you drive tons of traffic to your website without telling your potential customers who you serve and what you stand for in your community?

What greeting is your sales staff using? Is it the same greeting each and every time with each and every customer? What do they present first and why? Is there a script for each product that covers the main bullets that must be presented each and every time?

I was told the other day that I am “intentional.” My whole reason for writing this article is to stress that you should be extremely intentional too. The most serious home furnishings retailers have specific professional (and personal) goals. The ones who are most successful address these goals in an intentional way.

Ideas For Adding Intention To Your Store
  • Take a look at all that web traffic you are paying for to encourage website visits. Are you happy to take your provider’s click, like, and links reports at face value. Or can you do something more? You can! Try offering valuable information like a buyer guide, membership club, or discount in exchange for the lead’s name and email once they arrive at your website. If you ask, you get. Work to create real communications with real people you can sell something to. This is intentional, not casual. 
  • Take a look at your staff. How are they dressed? Is it intentional or casual? Do they all greet in the same fashion or are there variations. 
  • Consider the word of mouth business and referrals that come your way. Do you think that a casual approach to how you and your staff work with customers helps convert that referred business?
If all your sales people fail to deliver consistent and intentional presentations, then shame on you. If a referred prospect has a less than stellar experience, he or she will report back to the friend who referred them. It shouldn’t be a surprise that you will not earn another referral. No customer will stick their neck out for you a second time if you were too casual to treat their first referred guest the same way you treated them.

  • Simple things can be done to kill this casualness. Develop scripts for greeting customers. Then do the same for every product and service you sell.  And if your staff tries to tell you that scripts “cramp their style” or “make them sound like robots” or “impede the actual sale itself”, ask them this question. 

What is your favorite movie or TV show?

Regardless of their answer, you can tell them that the actors in that movie or TV show are all paid very handsomely to deliver one thing and one thing only, a script!

If my software provider had used scripts in their presentation, and remembered to ask for the order, they would have filled their event to 40% capacity 10 months ahead of schedule, with just one touch point!

Remember, casualness can creep in anywhere. It’s your job to cut it out and replace it with intention.

Jeff Giagnocavo and Ben McClure co-own Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA a multi unit destination boutique mattress store. They also co authored the book “Mega Mattress Margins” and “Retail is Dead” as well as created the industry’s only turn key, done for you, sales and marketing machine called Automated Mattress Profits that creates captures and converts prospects into paying customers. Questions on any aspect of bedding promotion can be directed to Jeff and Ben care of JeffG@furninfo.com. To get more information on their “Automated Mattress Profits CRM system visit http://www.AutomatedMattressProfits.com.
Read other articles by Jeff Giagnocavo