What are some spiffs I can use to generate some excitement — and hopefully better sales — from the staff?

For inspiration, we can’t do better than recommending sales trainer Harry Friedman’s The Retailer’s Complete Book Fo Selling Games and Contests , which includes more than 100 games for increasing on-the-floor performance — everything from Pass the Buck to variations on H.O.R.S.E.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the same person doesn’t win the prize every time. That’s just discouraging.
  • It’s often better not to focus on the ultimate target, such as higher sales. You want to make sure the spiff is encouraging the right behaviors such as getting customers to try on frames or to consider an add-on or an additional feature like polarization or AR, or to be more proactive in dealing with no-shows.
  • Get those little things right and sales growth should follow.
  • Financial rewards can definitely work, but it doesn’t have to be about the money. Make the prize an offer for you to wash the winner’s car, or — if you’re really adventurous — to shave your head for charity, and you can greatly boost team bonding.
  • Add a touch of ceremony, such as beating a gong to announce the week’s winner at your Friday meeting, before you get sucked into a celebratory pizza. 
We got some nice comments from customers about our service and products during the holiday season. How can we make the most out of them?

Social media was born for this sort of thing. First thing is to contact the customer and ensure she is happy that you use her testimonial. Tell her where you plan to share her comments and how. Then get to work. For Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, you want to convert those golden words into a golden image. If you’re like the 99.9 percent of the general population that doesn’t have graphic art training, try Canva, a free graphic-design tool that provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. (Another such tool is infogr.am). Then start sharing! For social media saturation, you can then put the text to work in even more channels. Put it in local ads, add it to your website, and include it in your newsletter. Soon it will be the kind word heard around the world.

As I start my financial planning for 2018, do you recommend a bottom-up or top-down approach?

It will be a new year, a new beginning ... start at the bottom. Begin with an investigation of your individual operating expenses and how much revenue each part of the business generates, and then work your way up toward your target. “Top down (whereby you set new targets for each part of your business based on your most recent financial figures) is quicker but invariably leads to existing costs being left in rather than being properly evaluated,” says David Brown, CEO of the Edge Retail Academy.

Our optical is long overdue for an update but we currently don’t have a clear idea of what direction to take OR the budget to do it. What are some quick, inexpensive ways we can freshen up the impression we give customers?

Smart thinking! It’s never a great idea to do a major renovation unless you have a pretty solid idea of what you’re looking for ... and a way to pay for it! But that doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t periodically be given a little tszuj. Merchandising guru Bill Gerber of Omg! Optical Marketing Group shared the top three ways a tired dispensary can quickly and inexpensively update their merchandising:

  • Add consistent brand identification and brand storytelling signage that is immediately visible when walking into the space. You’ve got three seconds to catch someone’s attention — make the most of it! Keep in mind that random vendor-supplied brand signage mostly creates discord and is not visible from a distance.
  • Add practice-branding signage designed in the same style as what’s in the optical that communicates your unique story. What makes you amazing? Your service, styling acumen, brands, pricing? If it’s true, it’s not bragging. Secondly, it should also tell them what to expect during their visit — the exam, diagnoses, solutions, etc. Don’t let the process be a mystery or surprise.
  • Change all lighting to LED; jewelry story quality in optical and a softer white in the rest of the space.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 edition of INVISION.  

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