By Gene Fresco
Retailers make from 47 percent to up to 60 percent of their yearly sales volume in the last quarter of the year.
It’s September, and now is the time for you to make your plans for the coming quarter.
The better the plan, the more sales you will have.
The four holidays in the last quarter are Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
You must have a precise plan on how to utilize these holidays to your financial advantage.
The first thing you must do, if you haven’t done it already, is create gift cards for your store.
Gift cards are on the rise in this economy, because they are a way of allowing the receiver to buy what he or she wants and needs. They also free the giver of any regret in getting the wrong thing.
I would advertise their availability and offer a discount to the buyer, such as, “Buy a gift certificate from Joe’s Music at 10 percent off. Get $100 for only $90.”
Have the cards displayed in every department. Have your salespeople tell every customer who comes in about them. Start doing this now!
The first holiday coming up is Halloween. Jump in with both feet on this one. Have a Best Costume contest for your customers and encourage them to come to your store.
Take their picture and post it on a bulletin board. Offer an extra 10-percent discount for anyone coming into your store wearing a costume. Have all your salespeople wear costumes on that day.
You must get all you can from the last quarter, so you want to be very thorough in your plans.
You must spend 60 percent of your advertising budget in the last quarter of the year. This is “make money time.” So, make some money!
The next holiday coming up is Thanksgiving. This is a little more of a laid-back holiday. So, you want to be a little more reverent in your promotions. One good idea is to give away turkeys. How about a free turkey with every sale exceeding $200? You can arrange this with the most popular food store in town. I would also include a promotion with churches, which are getting ready for their holiday services. The one I have had the most success with is offering a free check of their sound system to ensure good performance during their more elaborate services.
And, of course, the most important reason to thank God is for our troops, who make sacrifices every day to keep us safe. Always offer a serviceman or servicewoman an extra military discount.
The third holiday is the most important: Christmas. (Also not to be forgotten are customers of a different religion, such as Jewish customers who celebrate Hanukkah.)
This is the break-it-or-make-it month of the last quarter.
You have to come out with all you’ve got.
I would set up a tree and Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving and, again, stress gift-card availability.
Set up tables by prices. Have pre-wrapped gifts. Have a $25 table, a $50 table, a $100 table and so on.
You can hire some temporary help to wrap the pre-wrapped gifts and put a sticker on the outside to indicate what the item is.
Make it as easy as possible for your customer to buy a gift. Have a drawing to win a trip. You can buy trips to Las Vegas at a very reasonable cost nowadays.
Play Christmas songs that can be heard outside the front door as your customers enter.
Have your salespeople greet the customers with “Happy Holidays!”
You must put your thinking cap on and have all your personnel put on theirs, too. Have brainstorming sessions this month on planning the coming quarter.
You will be surprised how resourceful you and your personnel can be.
Mail or e-mail every one of your clientele a Christmas card, Hanukkah greeting or the like. Thank them for their business and wish them a happy and healthy New Year.
Of course, New Year’s Eve is the last holiday of 2012, and we all look for 2013 to be bigger and better. It can be, if you plan the whole year as you have planned the last quarter. Each month has a special holiday that can represent more business.
For the big department stores, January is “White Month.” That is when linens and bedding sales occur. You can have white instrument sales: all white instruments on sale.
February has Valentine’s Day, March has St. Patrick’s Day and April has Easter. May has Mother’s Day, June has Father’s Day and July has Independence Day. August has back-to-school shoppingz and September has Labor Day. October has Halloween, November has Thanksgiving, and December has Christmas and Hanukkah.
If you maintain this last-quarter attitude for every month of the year, you won’t have to scramble trying to make 60 percent of your sales volume during the last three months of the year.
Read the ads in your local paper, see what the big boys are doing and get on their bandwagon. They spend millions on surveys to find out what the trends are and how to capitalize on them. Let them spend the money, and then use their ideas to your advantage.
Madison Avenue advertising agencies spent $2 million to find out what words Americans respond to in advertising. They are New, Free, Happy, Love and Guarantee. Use all or some of these words and you will get good results.
I wish you all a happy and successful last quarter, and I hope I have inspired you to do great things.
I wish you good selling.