Tip Sheet: May-June 2014

Goodbye, Dirty Bills

Nobody really likes old, dirty money. In fact, when researchers at the University of Winnipeg gave students $20 and told them they could buy as much as they wanted from a mock store and save the rest, students given crisp $20 bills spent an average of $3.86, while the “dirty money” students spent $8.35. Researchers believe worn bills generate feelings of dirtiness and contamination in the holder, thereby devaluing them. The takeaway? Take grubby notes out of circulation. Each time a customer uses an old bill to pay you, stick it in a jar for emergency expenses, like the repair bill for a computer that goes down. Don’t return such notes to your customers or use them to pay staff.

Give Staff a Say

Daniel Pink, author of To Sell Is Human, says motivation comes from a collaborative environment, autonomy and finding purpose in a job. Promote autonomy by letting staff have control over not only how they sell, but what they sell. Give them a say in the product mix.

State Your Price

You would be surprised by the number of people who avoid eye exams because they think they cost so much. Take that guesswork away by posting a sign with your price that’s visible in your window. (Even better, stencil your exam price on your window as Providence Optical does. On its website FAQ, the Rhode Island business has this statement: “A comprehensive exam of eye care and visual systems can be as little as $60 and as high as $120.”) Stating your exam price can help turn an eye exam into an impulse purchase.

Get a Three-Month Review

From Seth Godin’s The Big Moo: Do what entrepreneurial hotelier Chip Conley does at his Joie de Vivre hotels. Make it a habit to sit down with your new hires after three months. But don’t give them a performance review — have them give your operation a performance review. Their eyes are still fresh enough that they’ll be able to see things you’re missing. And they’ll have been on the job long enough to know how things work. Chances are good that they’ll have a few great ideas to contribute, Godin says. 

Small, But Powerful

Does your website have a favicon? That’s the little icon that appears next to the the URL in a Web browser or on Web browsing tabs — like Facebook’s blue box with the “F.” If you haven’t set one, you might have a generic one (e.g. Internet Explorer’s halo-ed “E”) or one that indicates your Web host or content-management platform. Anyway, it’s a small, but noticeable, professional touch to make one specifically for your business. (See what Eyevolution in Nyack, NY, has for its site, eyevolution.net.) Create your 16 x 16 pixel square masterpiece, name it favicon.ico, and place it in your Web server directory. Bam, you’re looking better already!

Blogging Made Easy

Can’t figure out where to start blogging? Business blogger Marcus Sheridan, whose relatively small Georgia-based pool and spa company is rated No. 1 in Google for pool manufacturers in his region, can tell you. Says Sheridan: “Start with the questions you get every day. Take those 100 questions, and turn them into 100 blog posts with those questions transformed into the titles.” Even if you hear only the same 10 questions, it’s enough to get started. Aim for one “frequent question answered” post each week, and supplement with posts about new products, events and promotions. 

Building Better Sellers

If you’re a young store and don’t yet have a standout salesperson, a good way to help create one is by sending staff members to other stores to watch their great salespeople in action. Have a relationship with a non-competing optical retailer with outstanding salespeople in your state or region? Write a letter to them, starting with “Hey, I’d like to ask you for a really big favor ...”

Past Meets Present 

Fun social media idea: Put up an old staff picture on Facebook and offer a prize to anyone who can correctly identify all the team members. Such contests reaffirm your connection with long-time customers and establish your credibility (and approachability) with newer ones. Of course, if you have experienced complete — or even near-complete — staff turnover in the last decade or so, it’s best to ignore this tip.