Is it irrational to cut back on inventory and advertising when there is an election?

“It’s not irrational at all,” says Andy Malis, cofounder of the ad agency MGH. “While not all voters are conservative, most consumers tend to become conservative with their spending in times of uncertainty. This election cycle is particularly divisive, and many categories are experiencing flat or negative sales.” Malis notes that advertising rates tend to skyrocket during election years, and media inventory remains tight before and after as marketers adjust their plans. “If you can hold your own by concentrating on your current customers via social media, email, direct mail, personal notes, phone calls, etc., then you should do fine,” he says. Store consultant Kate Peterson concurs, urging you to reallocate marketing resources to achieve more direct client contact though events, “concierge services” and local charity events. In terms of inventory, though, she says cutting back doesn’t make sense, especially as this is the time to ramp up for the holiday season. “Most consumers have figured out that election results, even the most divisive, have little impact on their day-to-day lives. Elections don’t negate birthdays, anniversaries or engagements.”


What should I look out for with seasonal hires?

Sure, they may be temps, but you need to apply almost the same attention to hiring short-timers as full-time staff. That means applying the same scrutiny to references and background checks, having a structured training program in place to get them up to a professional level quickly and having a detailed idea how you plan to deploy them. (If they’re shortterm holiday hires, a plan to use them as support staff to give your sales staff more time on the floor is a good idea — just answering phones can be a huge time suck at this time time of year). Also, keep an eye on the long term. Advises Suzanne DeVries, owner of Diamond Staffing Solutions: “Hire seasonal employees who could be full-time hires in the future. If all goes well, the time spent with them can be an investment.”

 


Since we encourage clients to browse while they wait, it can be difficult to keep track of who is next. Any suggestions?

An enviable problem indeed, but one that requires management, especially as this year the new EMV chip credit card payment procedures are likely to lengthen the average POS transaction time by at least 15 seconds (which can seem like forever to a customer in a hurry). Store consultant Kate Peterson says she’s seen everything from sign-in sheets to “bakery numbers” used to deal with this problem. Her conclusion? The best systems involve the role of a quality sales manager whose job it is to keep tabs on everything, to keep things moving and to ensure that the right salespeople are with the right customers (as opposed to getting involved in any one sale himself ). Additionally, a greeter is essential. “This greeter really needs to be a mature, efficient individual who is both pleasant and organized and who understands that this is more of a ‘logistics manager’ role than anything else,” she says

 


What are the best days for an event?

Cathy Calhoun, who has built a reputation for doing some of the best events in the industry — everything from ’60s revivals to a Blob Night — says that in her experience, Wednesdays work best. “It is usually the night when not much else is happening. Thursday night is always busy. And Monday/Tuesday seem to be too close to the weekend,” says the owner of Calhoun Jewelers in Royersford, PA.

 

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This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of INSTORE.



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