Awards & Engraving

March '16

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A&E MARCH 2016 • 59 Sales & Marketing should parallel these numbers. Just do not lose sight of the fact that even the 20 percent is important to your aggregate total, and make sure that in the small space assigned to trophies you show the smartest display possible. A smart display of trophies should include multiple sizes, styles and colors and include examples of completed tro- phies in different events. No need to have all events, but pictures or graphics would be nice. For example, have a book readily available that shows all trophy figures that are available. Maybe even have it next to the display at all times so customers can browse through it. The faster you can demonstrate to a customer that you have a solution for them, the better chance that you will close an order. It shows a cus- tomer that you know your business inside and out, and therefore there is no reason to shop anywhere else. Slightly more expensive but effective would be the use of one or more flat panel displays to enhance the experience for a customer. Coupled with a USB stick or PowerPoint demonstration, this is a great way to show customers all of their options in a space-challenged environ- ment. A tablet can do the same thing, but make sure that it is in a secure place, or it just might find its way out the door when you least expect it. The same thing goes for the rest of your displays. Make sure the products in them are relevant to the needs of your core cus- tomers and don't take up valuable space for items that sell sparsely or not at all. Again, this would be a good use of a flat panel display or a book to showcase items that are available but not sold every day. It also gives a customer the confidence that you are a one-stop shop and erases any thought that they have to go anywhere else for their awards needs. In conjunction with this, make sure you have a basic handle on what the lead times will be if a customer needs to place an order for items that you do not readily have in stock. There is no harm in telling them that you need to verify availability first before you commit to an order. Committing first and later finding out that you cannot deliver as needed may have terrible consequences for both you and your customer. Having an area for discontinued items, or items that were bought from a supplier as a "special" might have some relevance from time to time, but be careful here. By going all-out on these types of items, you are taking space away from everyday items that might have better traction over the long term. More importantly, you never want to get a customer excited about closeouts in place of regular items. Sometimes a smaller, more focused offering can have far more impact than a scattered and mon- strous display. A customer that does not know exactly what they are looking for when they walk in your store may be over- whelmed by too many choices. SHARPEN YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS Proper communication with everyone who walks in is extremely important. Make sure that each person is greeted and is made to feel as though they are engaged with you or your staff. Look them in the eyes and listen to everything that they say. Give them appropriate answers and make sure that they understand what you are saying. Remember that you know the awards industry, not them. If they leave your shop feeling as though you taught them some- thing, then there is a good chance that they will remain loyal to you. Pausing frequently during your discussions with them gives them time to understand what you are saying and more importantly what you are selling them. GOOD WORKFLOW LEADS TO A PRODUCTIVE ENVIRONMENT Workspace layout is determined first by the physical space you are dealing with and gets coupled with the equipment that you have to run the business. There is no perfect layout, as all spaces are different; however, it is best to maximize flow. Try not to crowd highly trafficked areas so people are not bumping into each other. This also minimizes the possibili- ties of product getting damaged in the process. Think about how products move through your production process and if possible, try to keep work areas reason- ably close to each other without crowding. The same thing goes for inventory. Make sure it is put away in some type of order that allows for easy retrieval as well as in some sort of order permitting accurate counts. There needs to be a handle on what is in stock at all times to avoid duplicate inventory ordering, or worse, not ordering items that are needed. All of this sounds simple, but dealing with the constraints of a building can be difficult. That is why even in a challenging physical environment you must come up with a system that works. Business hours should be determined by what works best to ensure that your cus- tomers have easy access to your business at times that suit them. 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. is what I have seen as the average opening and closing times. Personally, I am not a fan of awards businesses closing for lunch, as this is a peak time for customers to come in. Week- ends are hit and miss. Many award com- panies open for half a day on Saturday to catch up and to accommodate pick-up business. Another option is to designate one day a week as a "late" day and maybe stay open until 7 or 8 p.m. that evening for those people who cannot make it any other time. Making sure that the three areas dis- cussed above are properly looked after is important for the ongoing success of your business. By watching these areas closely and constantly refining them, you ensure that your business has a good foundation from which it operates. Review them con- stantly and make changes as necessary. Remember that no business can survive by remaining static. Eric Priceman is Vice President and Director of Marketing for Victory, division of Planter Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. In his over three decades in the awards and engraving industry, he has traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally, visiting customers and suppliers. He is happy to share his unique perspectives of the industry, both past and present. Please feel free to contact Eric by email at or by phone at 773-637-7777 ext. 228. A&E

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