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Putting the Ho, Ho,
Ho Back in Holiday

For most music retailers, the holiday season requires you to reinvent yourself for about a month. The typical store is designed to cater to musicians, but your target customer through this period is the non-musician. It’s Mom, Dad, Granny and Aunt Lil, who are all out to find the perfect gift. The way most music stores are merchandised will intimidate these neophytes and likely send them shopping elsewhere for a bicycle or video game. Your store needs to be clean, simple and focused. You need lots of explanatory signs. Your background music should be festive holiday fare. Your store should sing out with an overriding sense of fun and happiness.

Your staff pulls this all together. Employees need to look, act and speak differently since they are dealing with a different clientele than most other times of the year. They need to evoke trust, and that starts with how they dress and how they carry themselves. They need a new language devoid of buzzwords, such as “active electronics,” “DSP,” “SPL,” “embouchure” and “temperament.” These should be replaced with “dependable,” “reputation,” “popular” and “enjoyable.”

With all of that in place, here are some guidelines that help maximize company performance through the holidays:

Sell What’s in Stock: That means your sales professionals need to know what’s in stock. Shipping is slow this time of year, so it’s the perfect time to move what you’ve got.

Sell Add-ons: While this is always important, the opportunities to sell add-ons are better than ever during the holidays. Pitch the extras as great stocking stuffers. In addition, shoppers are pressed for time, so the more add-ons you can offer them, the more likely you’ll help them work through their shopping list without going elsewhere.

Compete With the Internet: Sell the advantages of buying locally more than ever during the holidays. You’ve got product in stock. There are no fears of shipping delays, damage in transit or defective products. Know your competition since your customers will only pay so much of a premium, and then close the sale.

Sell Gift Cards: Sell them as add-on stocking stuffers. Suggest them if customers have no idea what to get or if the item they want is out of stock. And suggest gift cards for anyone on their shopping list who has them stumped.

Refund Policy: Regardless of your standard refund policy, the holidays are a time when you need to be lax about returns. Giving customers that sense of security will make them all the more likely to buy. And when those occasional returns happen, you’ll have the opportunity to up sell.

Security: Sadly, this happy time of year also brings out the desperation in some people. I never had a holiday season where someone didn’t attempt to rip us off. Be aware.