As you already know from Part 1 of this series, I spent quite a bit of time working in the retail industry. If you have worked in any industry for a long period of time, then you know that you start to pick up on trends and strategies. You actually begin to embody the tricks of the trade. In addition to that, you realize that the same strategies and business practices that are used in your industry can be applied to other types of industries.

In the first part of the series, I discussed 5 things that I learned throughout my retail management career. Firstly, I recognized that without sales nothing else matters. Secondly, I realized that it is better to have a sale with a low gross product versus no sale of a high grossing product. Thirdly, I learned that sometimes by simply relaunching a product you could possibly increase its sales. I also discovered that customers are more likely to buy if they have fewer choices. Lastly, I realized how effective demonstrating or displaying a product was with regard to sales.

Believe or not there were more things that I was able to discover from my experience. So below I have listed 5 more things that my retail management experience has taught me that I believe can be applied in any type of business.

  1. You Have To Be Willing To Take Chances

  2. Some Customers Are Not Worth Having

  3. The Majority of Your Customers Are Honest

  4. Do What You Say You Are Going To Do

  5. Always Ask Your Customers If They Were Satisfied

Retail Management Experience
Credit: WikiCommons

You Have To Be Willing To Take Chances

Aside from sales and gross profit, inventory level is a major hot button in the retail industry. Retail managers, at least the good ones, are always aware of the amount of inventory in their store. A lot of times retail managers, concerned about their inventory, reduce the amount of merchandise that they order. This can actually have a negative impact on sales.

During one Christmas season my store lost out on several days of toy sales because we ran out of all of our toys. Why? Because we were scared to order extra merchandise. Not only did we lose out on toy sales we lost out on the sales of gift wrapping paper, tape, and other extras that customers would have bought in addition to the toys. When the customers realized that we did not have what they wanted they left without buying anything.

From that point forward we started to agressively order more product that we thought would sell in the store. Of course, at times, we were stuck with excess inventory of a certain product because it did not sell well but there were plenty times when we struck gold. The bottom line is you cannot make sales if you have nothing to sell.

In your business you have to be willing to take a chance. You have to be okay with failing. If you feel like your customers will like a new product, then go for it. If you think that you have a better process for manufacturing your product, then you should try to implement it. You will never know if something works unless you try it.  

Some Customers Are Not Worth Having

Customer service is KING in the retail industry. As a manager I drilled service into the heads of all of my employees. I would explain to them that the customer is the real boss. Without customers we have no sales and without sales we will not get paid. So, of course, we would try to go above and beyond to help our customers out with whatever they needed.

However, occasionally we were confronted with a customer who, no matter how much you tried to help, was never satisfied. Basically, no matter what you did it was not right. Nevertheless, because customer service is ingrained in us, we would spend a massive amount of time attending to this customer. Sometimes, after providing an hour or two of tender love and care, we would get it right, but most of the time we would strike out. After enduring several episodes with the same customer, we had to kindly tell them that maybe they can find another store that could serve them better.

As a business owner, sometimes you just have to refuse to serve certain customers. Just because your customers are paying you does not mean that they can treat you any kind of way. Of course, if you have screwed up a project or assignment, then the customer has a right to be a little pissed. In this case you are is not dealing with a bad customer you are dealing with a dissatisfied customer. You should easily be able to rectify the problem. A bad customer, on the other hand, is a customer that you will never be able to please. Do yourself along with your staff a favor and get rid of your bad customers.

The Majority of Your Customers Are Honest

Theft or shrinkage is just a part of doing business in the retail industry. In spite of all of that, most of the theft that occurs in the business is done by insiders. Basically, your employees will steal more than your customers. While you may encounter the occasional kleptomaniac, your customers are, for the most part, honest.

As a business owner, you should recognize that only a small portion of your customers are trying to rip you off. With that said, you should not be spending a large part of your budget on making sure people do not steal from you. I am not saying that you should not take any type of preventative security measures. However, if someone wants to steal it bad enough, then they will steal it. It does not matter what type of security measures you have in place. Ask the movie industry how successful they are at preventing piracy? It still does not stop them from producing big budget films year after year.

Do What You Say You Going To Do

There were a couple of instances where I promised a customer that I was going to do something and I did not deliver. Sometimes I was able to recover, but there were times when I really pissed off a customer and I lost their business for good. On the other hand, if I told the customer that I was going to do something and I actually followed through, then I had a customer for life and at times a raving fan.

A lot of  business owners promise things to their customers that they know they cannot deliver just to get a sale. Now of course you may get a quick sale, but you will have a dissatisfied customer. Whether you want to believe it or not, a dissatisfied customer can destroy your business in under 140 characters and the click of the mouse on Twitter. If they are motivated enough, they can start an all out social media war against your company.

With that said, make it part of your business practice to deliver what you promised to your customers. If for some reason you cannot deliver something, then do not promise it. Be honest and let your customers know the truth. While you may lose a sale, you will definitely gain some trust and goodwill, which goes a long way these days.

Always Ask Your Customers If They Were Satisfied

As a manager I would tell my cashiers to ask each customer if they found everything okay today while they were checking them out. Sometimes the customer would say that they did find everything okay. Then, once in a while, we would have a customer that was trying to find something but they could not seem to locate it. If we had the product, then the cashier would call someone to bring it up front for the customer. Two things took place during this exchange. Firstly, the customer was extremely happy that we were able to help them. Secondly, we were able to add another item to their ticket which increased my store's overall sales.

Unless you are running a retail type business, then you may not be able to implement this exact strategy. However, you should be able to implement some type of variation of the strategy. You can call or email your existing customers to find out if they were satisfied. You could even send out a survey to find out what your customers think. In addition to determining products or services that you can up sell to your existing customers, you can use this strategy to come up with new products and service ideas.

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I hope that you are able to apply some of these concepts to your existing business in some form. 

In the comments section below share what strategies, tactics, or ideas you have learned from past experiences that can be used in any business situation.

Also if you have not read Part 1 of this series the link is below:

5 Things That My Retail Management Experience Has Taught Me - Part 1