December 7th 2017.
By all accounts it’s been a tough year has 2017. As we happily wave it goodbye and kick it into the long grass, we have amongst other things, a Royal wedding to now look forward to in May, so let’s think about how you can get the most out of your business in what I know will be a fabulous 2018 for you.
- Hours can be wasted using inefficient systems. Computer programmes have come on amazingly well for Bridal Retailers and there are several to choose from. Whilst it may appear daunting to start with, and a financial investment, my clients (running both large and small businesses) who do have their systems on line have never looked back. It saves masses of effort; all the jobs which take time and get put off can now be completed with the touch of a button. I also love the feature of being able to text customers to confirm their appointments. Customers respond well to it – and crucially, from what I have seen of survey data, cancellations and no-shows drop considerably.
- Are you open on Mondays? Did you know, a good deal of customers who have had a Saturday appointment actually make their decision to buy at the beginning of the following week. Sometimes, for the customer, not being able to speak to the shop on a Monday can mean a lost sale. They may go elsewhere. So, if you are able to facilitate them, do.
- Do all your staff have contracts and job descriptions? It may sound obvious but these can be overlooked. It is vital and a legal requirement (certainly in the UK) to have a contract of employment. This protects both you and your employees. Job descriptions ensure all duties are written down. This will help avoid confusion giving a open, crystal clear picture to employees of what is expected of them and what they can expect from you.
- No matter how long you have been in business, training of staff is vital. Customers today are very savvy. The Industry is unrecognisable from even 5 years ago, so it’s important you stay up to speed with what’s going on out there and have your staff firing on all cylinders with updated skill sets. Regular training keeps up motivation and will give your staff a real sense of belonging. Trust, respect, and a happy working environment are crucial for your continued business success journey. Training helps bond a team; everyone singing from the same hymn sheet which is desirable when working towards the same goal isn’t it.
- What better way to ring in the New Year than with a revamp. Small changes at a relatively low cost (or for free) can make a huge difference. Something as simple as regularly moving your stock around, where possible, clears the air and give a renewed sense of optimism and reinvigorates. Customers who come back will often ask if a particular gown is new and all you’ve done is move it. Changing your window display frequently is important. Local people won’t want to see the same gowns in the window for long periods of time. A suggestion is, on a Thursday afternoon for the weekend and a Monday morning for the week ahead. Do ensure all your light bulbs are working. It can look really dull if there are dark areas in a shop. I sympathise when it comes to the cost of light bulbs though, they don’t last as long as they used to do they! Feature walls, newly painted woodwork – it always gets scuffed doesn’t it! Curtains which may need cleaning or repairing, those odd jobs you keep meaning to do but never seem to have the time to do. All of this can guarantee your customer’s buying experience is always first class.
- Ensure your shop floor is kept pristine between appointments. Chances are, your best selling gowns will be in a fitting room when your next bride comes along. The 80/20 rule applies here. You will sell 20 % of your stock 80% of the time. She and her guests will want to see your best gowns so try and keep the flow of trying them and getting them back out as seamless as possible. Do you have a facility for repairing gowns? This is so important. There is nothing worse than having gowns which are damaged, beads falling off, zips broken, or needing to be cleaned. Customers will decide within a couple of seconds whether they are going to like you – and your shop, so ensure their first impression is always as good as you can realistically make it.
Finally, I’d just like to ask, do you know how amazing you are? I want you to look in the mirror and tell yourself every day that you are doing a fantastic job. There aren’t many chosen occupations I know of where you are on your feet all day, smiling for hours on end, entertaining (feeding and watering) a bride and her guests, staying positive despite facing rejection on occasion, weight lifting dresses back and forth, pressing and steaming, wading through paperwork, going without lunch and tea breaks, a million other duties, and still come bouncing back. All to ensure your brides receive the best possible service and care you can give. They are very lucky customers!
Huge respect for you. #Superstars.
Wishing you all the very happiest Christmas. I hope your dreams come true for 2018.