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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: March 2008

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Seven fresh ideas to better your business

Outlets let you get your coffee bean on; watch that Web music; more.

[componentheading]FAREWELL, SWEET STAFF[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Be Nice to Leavers[/contentheading]

It’s no secret that staff turnover in the retail industry is high. But that is no reason to treat departing workers the way you would an expired bottle of milk. On the contrary, handling them well has benefits for your business, HR magazine quotes Gail Gunderson of Ohio State University as saying. If you treat exiting workers with understanding and respect, they may decide to change their minds. They may also tell you the real reason they are leaving, which is important information if you suffer from high turnover. Parting on good terms potentially leaves the door open for them to return. And even if they don’t, they will have positive things to say, which could attract others. Finally, a cordial exit signals to remaining staff that you’re a decent boss who cares about his workers as people, which is good for morale.

[componentheading]SAVE BEANS[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Get Coffee On the Cheap[/contentheading]

Once upon a time, a fancy coffee-making machine was a sign of “exceptional customer service.” Not anymore; now they are almost obligatory. If you’ve long wanted to get a machine but balked at the hefty price tag, check out the “outlet” section of wholelattelove.com, which sells manufacturer-refurbished machines at discounts of up to 60 percent. As for beans, get the gourmet stuff from old-school coffee roaster D’Amico Foods, which ships from its store in Brooklyn — at great prices.

[componentheading]WEBSITE SEGUES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Go Easy On the Violins[/contentheading]

It may seem like a great suggestion from your webmaster: One click on your website, and romantic music begins playing, setting the scene for all the jewelry contained within. But hang on a minute. Think of the poor chump who’s stuck in his cubicle at the office and wants to sneak a few moments of work time to browse your site to do a little Mother’s Day shopping for his wife or mother — on the sly from his boss and coworkers. He clicks on your site, and the music starts blaring, and heads pop up from all the other cubicles. If you’re going to have music play on your website, please allow the option to turn it off before it begins. Don’t spoil it for all the office-bound shoppers.

[componentheading]SUITABLE SUITS[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Support the Dress Code[/contentheading]

The owners of Bergstrom Jewelers in Minneapolis, MN, had a problem: staff whose sartorial tastes didn’t quite match the store’s dress code. Rather than risk insulting the employees by telling them their wardrobes weren’t up to snuff, the store owners worked deals with nearby clothing outlets to give the workers gift certificates of $400 to $500 to be spent on mutually agreed suitable attire.

[componentheading]COOKIES FOR LUNCH[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Clear Those Net Spies[/contentheading]

If you’re heading to the JCK shows in Las Vegas or even JA New York a little later, it’s likely you’ll soon start trawling Internet travel websites to check ticket prices. One thing you may not be aware of is that most of these sites collect “cookies” from your computer to tell if you’re hanging off, waiting for prices to change. To get around this, delete the travel site’s cookies in your web browser. (The “help” section of your browser will tell you how to do this.) That way, the website will treat you as a new customer each time you visit.

[componentheading]INTERSTING HUMANS[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Get a Piece of the Action[/contentheading]

It helps business to get your name out there in the public. So isn’t it galling when you see a rival profiled in the newspaper? Rather than get angry, get a piece of the action. Marketing consultant Joan Stewart in her publicityhounds newsletter cites the case of a barber in Fish Creek, WI, who via a letter to the editor, challenged the local paper’s readers to find out themselves where they could get a better haircut: at his store or at the competitor’s. What really made the letter stand out was the accompanying history about their third-generation barber. It’s such human interest material that will always capture an editor’s interest. The newspaper ran the letter and a photo of a man getting a haircut at the salon.

[componentheading]PARTY OF TWO[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Book the Best Seat in the House[/contentheading]

Do you live in a city that has a restaurant where it’s almost impossible to get a reservation? Impress your customers by booking a table (better yet, a prime table at the prime time of the night). You can do it far in advance. You can do it every week. Then give the reservations to a customer who purchases a big piece from you.

[span class=note]This story is from the March 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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