AdviceFeatures

Counting your customers

In retail we can never really know how many potential sales have slipped through our fingers. Resident columnist Leonard Zell explores how you can identify lost sales and avoid more of them happening in the future

I have asked jewellers of they count their customers for 25 years and the answers I always get range from, “I am not sure, I’ll have to look it up”, to “I’ll ask my manager”. No one knows! However, a few jewellers have told me anywhere from 70% to 80% of their customers are sold, but when I ask them, “who do you count as sold customers?”, they answer, “customers who really came into buy.”

Not those just looking, coming in for repairs, or who want to use the loos.” They have no idea of the actual percentage of unsold customers. That is why they are only concerned about the percentage they sold – it sounds much better.

One of your store’s most important categories of diamond sales is from bridal customers. Since this is the height of the bridal season in the UK and these sales are so vital to your store, I recommend you track them starting now. If you are wondering why I am pushing you, I have a good reason. The engagement and wedding rings are a compulsory sale they have to buy. Each time they leave a jewellery store unsold they even more eager to buy. In other words each jeweller who did not sell this bridal couple warmed them up for the next jeweller. This is why one of the remarks I hear from salespeople is: “I wish we were the last store these couples visited, would be easy to close.”

These are not just lost sales, these are lost customers who are starting out in life and could have been the backbone of your store’s future business. Who do you think the jeweller is they are going back to? Of course, it is the jeweller who sold them their engagement and wedding rings. Who is the one they trust the most and are going to recommend to their friends? The same jeweller. I do not know of any other retailer who has the advantage a jeweller has of selling merchandise that a customer has to buy. These unsold bridal customers are a huge loss for any jeweller and why it is important to track how many leave your store unsold. The only way to track them manually, which is not easy, but is well worth it.

It is much easier to track the other unsold customer leaving your store unsold. The most accurate way is installing a people counter. There are many types and they transmit a beam that counts each time it is broken by a customer entering and leaving your store. There are many different types depending the width of the entrance of your store. This web site, www.visit.fi/how-to-count-people, explains the different types and you can search for availability in the UK.

I recommend you have someone in charge of taking the total count each day after your store closes, divide that figure by two, deduct 10% for employees and tradesmen going in and out of the store. Take that figure and deduct the amount of sales slips not including bridal sales, which you have already tracked. The difference is the unsold customers. Take that figure and divide it by the total not including the bridal customers and you have the percentage of unsold customers not including bridal customers. Congratulations! Now you know know, why the £ per hour earned by your salespeople is not high enough to give you the budget you need.

Some jewellers find these two figures of unsold customers are much higher then they realised and you may too. The reason is that no one can be on the sales floor continuously. What you observed was not an accurate picture of unsold customers, but what you should concentrate on are those walking out of your store unsold without your salespeople getting any assistance.

Where was your manager, or assistant manager? Were they nearby to see the salesperson was in trouble? If so why didn’t they come over to assist in closing the sale? If neither of them could be on the sales floor why didn’t they ask you to cover for them? You can solve this as soon as you add these responsibilities to your manager’s job description:

  • Make sure the sales floor is covered and that either you, your assistant or the owner is on the sales floor to assist our sales staff before their customers leave unsold
  • You and your assistant manager should be near or at the front of the store to observe your staff  selling and only in the back when necessary
  • During slow times, when there are few if any customers, continue the training, near the front of the store and on both sides of the counter so it appears busy

What I recommend you and other store owners do:

  • Give your managers the training to save sales and how to train your salespeople during store hours when it is not busy
  • Give your salespeople the training how and when to ask for assistance before it is too late
  • Observe the sales floor, as often as possible, to see if your mangers are nearby, ready to help those who need assistance and not in the back of the store
  • Make sure your managers are trained to enter a sale in a professional manner, maintaining the salesperson’s pride
  • You can increase your percentage of sold customers by putting your salespeople first. Invest in training your salespeople to close more sales from the additional customers these events brought in

Without training the increased customers means more are unsold and it could be worse. Many of these are new customers and if they leave your store unsold they may not return, but are still ready to buy at another jeweller. On the other hand, by putting your salespeople first and preparing them for these events by training them, new customers won’t be going to other jewellers. Also, a larger percentage of the increased traffic of customers will be sold.

The results, a dramatic decrease in unsold customers, an increase in profits and returns from special events you haven’t seen before. There is more. You will see your salespeople’s confidence increase and with it their sales. They are happier, smile more and show enthusiasm. Customers like to buy from salespeople with this personality. Almost everyone does, wouldn’t you?

By Leonard Zell. This article first appeared in the March 2016 issue of Jewellery Focus

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