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Holiday Temp Timing and More of Your Questions for September

Including avoiding cash flow crunches, sourcing event signage and keeping family members looking for freebies in check.





IN THE INTERESTS of providing an answer to our 32,000-odd readers who don’t have a presence in Spokane, beautiful town that it is, we’d suggest making your first place of call. The website is a network of close to 31,000 sign makers around the country. You just type in your location and the type of sign you want — everything from full color banners to in-store signs to point of purchase displays (and even truck lettering if you need it) — and it will spit out a number of local sign companies. Or you could go for a wander through your local mall — see the type of sign you like and ask the store owner for the contact information.

When is the best time to bring on temp sales staff for the holiday season?

Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts says the most sensible and cost-effective approach to seasonal hiring is to begin the process in early to mid-October, with new hires brought on board no later than Nov. 1. An early start gives employers a wider range of options for quality people and allows for reasonable training time as well as team assimilation. “The additional payroll up front (paying new hires to work before they are needed) is a small investment when compared with the potential sales gain brought by well-trained associates functioning as part of a high functioning team,” she says.

Our cash flow is pretty bumpy. How do I avoid a cash crunch?

The key to warding off liquidity problems is the ability to accurately project your cash-flow needs. If you’re off by more than 5% of your receivables each month, then you’ve got a problem. The capability to produce cash-flow projections is one of the greatest strengths of a POS system. If your POS system is not spitting out the numbers you need, find a tutor — quickly!

Relatives just about killed me over Christmas, wanting inventory at cost. How do you deal with this?

Retail expert Rick Segel had a similar problem at his women’s specialty store. His answer was to stand up at a family gathering, explain the demands of his business and announce a 20% discount for all family members. “I explained that I could make money at 20% off and be happy when they came in.” After his speech, even relatives he hadn’t seen for a while started showing up at his door. Those “who appreciated my openness now felt more comfortable shopping at my store. As for [those] who didn’t think that 20% off was good enough — well too bad.” Figure out a rate and time period that works for you and let relatives know in advance.

How do you know an online review is sincere?

We’ll assume you’re asking because you suspect a rival is padding their Yelp page, not because you’d ever consider do anything so unethical (and illegal in some states).

Based on Yelp’s own data-driven research, fake reviews tend to stand out because of the following:

  • The glowing testimonial belongs to a newly created account with no history of reviews.
  • There’s an overabundance of first-person pronouns or mentions of who the person was with (“my husband,” “my family”).
  • The review features strings of empty adjectives extolling the general unadulterated awesomeness of the store.
  • The reviewer goes overboard with detailed descriptions of product or service features.
  • There is the existence of terms and phrases that business owners, rather than shoppers, would likely use, such as “great customer service” or “their industry-leading retinal imagery.”

Bottom line: It’s surprisingly difficult to fake sincerity.

Standard business advice seems to be to consistently go back to the well, meaning your existing customers. But how do you ensure you don’t bug them with repeated invitations to come and buy stuff?

The secret is to make them feel special. Let your best customers know when new merchandise will be coming in, and especially if you decide to put it on sale.

Second, show them you value them, that they are different from the customer who just walked in off the street. This can be done in a variety ways from small
rewards — free frame adjustments, even fridge magnets — to keeping notes about the little things in their lives that you can bring up in conversation later.

Then it’s a matter of not only seeking to maintain your history of sales with them but increasing the sales cycle by upselling as well with add-ons and extended service offers.



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