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Tip Sheet

How Asking a Question Can Help You Make a Point and More Tips for February

When the facts are on your side, asking a question is often more effective than making a statement.

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Question Time

All good sales people know the power of questions, not just to find out what a client really wants but as a tool of persuasion. Think of Ronald Reagan’s query, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” The reason, according to a study out of Ohio State University is that when the facts are clearly on your side, asking a question is more effective than making a statement. “People receive statements passively. But with questions, they summon their own, more autonomous reasons for agreeing,” writes Dan Pink in his newsletter.

Phone Out of Sight

Get that phone off the table! Newly published research by a team at Virginia Tech University suggests that the mere sight of a phone near two people having a conversation can divide attention and lessen the quality of the interaction.

Sweet Odes

Love & Luxe in San Francisco, CA, has made a name for itself with its creative collaborations. In recent years, they’ve hosted an artisanal perfumery pop-up, teamed up with a local florist as well as a chocolatier, and — our favorite – hired an onsite poet who typed custom love letters for Valentine’s Day. Rubies are red, sapphires are phat, how cool is that?

Add Romance

Want an ultra low-cost way to add personality and romance to your bathroom? Tack pages of your favorite poetry up on the walls. For Liz Lambert, owner of the hip Hotel San Jose in Austin, TX, this was a cost-saving idea that eventually became one of the hotel’s most popular features. (Extra tip: If the pages start disappearing, it could be a sign that you’re not stocking enough toilet paper).

Biting Back

Sadly, employee theft is one of the biggest risks a store owner faces. And it’s not just in jewelry. Philanthropy Today, a magazine focused on nonprofits, which collectively lose billions every year to internal theft, suggested this tip to stem the flow: Sit down with all staff and ask bluntly: How would you steal from me? Citing an ex-FBI agent as the source of the advice, it noted the first time you ask the question no one may speak up, “but the second time, workers will be talking about the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the charity’s systems and suggesting improvements.“

Repair Fences

If you’re renovating, Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide says that you shouldn’t forget about the impact of your project on your neighbors. Be sure to drop off cards to all your neighbors that read “Pardon our mess and thanks for understanding!” A “Pardon Our Mess!” sign outside your store is a good idea too..

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Red Flags

One area where you don’t want to see too much variability is gross margin. A swing of more than one or two percentage points should be seen as a red flag that something is wrong with either your business or your financials, says Ken Kaufman, a Utah “CFO of the year” and author of Impact Your Business. “This should never be the case unless your business has undergone a significant change in its business model,” he writes on the Amex Open Forum.

Family Guy

Get to know your accountant, really. And he or she should know you well too. “The person doing your taxes should not be a stranger. They should know who you are and how you live (and spend your life),” writes Shira Levince in Business Insider.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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