How To Plan A Profitable
Small Town Christmas (Part II)

by Tom Egelhoff

As I mentioned in my previous article I firmly believe that you are in charge of the kind of Christmas season you have. Not the economy or the media. You don't need every Christmas shopper out there you just need enough to help you reach your goals. Here are some additional thoughts to help you, as the season gets closer.

As of the first of November the discounters are going to be in full battle mode. They are going to be planting seeds in their customer's minds for future shopping ideas. It's time for you to do the same.

The one advantage that they have over you is sheer numbers of shoppers that enter their stores for mainstream purchases of products that you don't carry. That makes it critical that you look at each customer who enters your business as a tool to reach your goal.

At this time of year you are getting a combination of people who are just browsing and those that are truly shopping for Christmas gift ideas. You have a four-week window to start your own seed planting.

Start with gift certificates. And here is the most important question for you to answer. What do you give the person who buys the gift certificate? Most people at my seminars just have a blank stare or say, "Nothing."

It always amazes me that a customer of yours thinks enough of your business to send a new customer to you; that you don't have to spend one dime advertising to get; and they walk out of your store with nothing that shows your appreciation for this action. For some reason its treated as just another sale with the added nuisance of extra paperwork.

You don't have to give away the store but let them know that you appreciate their confidence in you and your products or services. A small gift or coupon will say a little more than just "Thank You." Ask each customer if they would like a gift certificate with their purchase and post signs that you offer gift certificates throughout your business.

And, speaking of coupons now is the time to start giving some out. One of my favorites is the shop with a friend coupon. At this time of year many women shop together. Mothers and daughters, neighbors, all car pool to shopping centers or downtown because its more fun to do Christmas shopping with someone else. You can get a second opinion on your gift decisions and make a day of it.

So from the first of November till Thanksgiving offer a "shop with a friend" coupon to everyone who comes in your store. This coupon would be good from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. When you shop with a friend you both receive the coupon offer on your purchases. It's a great way to drive customers to your store and you can even print the coupon in your pre-Christmas ads. Make any offer that you think will bring in traffic that you can offer profitably.

Make your receipts coupons too. Many computerized receipts have a space where you can print a message to customers. Include an offer or incentive here that will bring customers back during the holiday shopping season. Make sure you point it out to each customer that it's more than just a receipt.

If you keep a listing of your best customers have a "private sale." This would be mailed to your best customers and they would receive deals or savings above what the day-to-day customer would receive. Usually this kind of sale is held either before or after your regular business hours. It's a great way to enhance your bottom line and say thank you for their support of your business.

Consider small daily bonuses or "spiffs" on your high margin items for your sales staff. This will give your employees some incentive to remind customers of these items. This will also help keep your margin high and that will help offset some of your loss leader sale items.

The important lesson in creating Christmas sales success is not just to buy product open your doors and cross your fingers. Successful people make things happen. They set goals and implement strategies to make those goals happen. Each person who walks through your doors from now until Christmas is a person that can help you achieve your goals. Each one should be treated as you would treat a member of your own family. Remember, your success is entirely in your hands.

Return to the "How To Plan A Profitable Small Town Christmas" Part I

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