By Gordon S. Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding
If you haven’t checked your watch lately, it’s now past September!
That means our business year is rolling into Quarter No. 4 with a little over 100 selling days to make your year. If you are very close to your annual sales goal (fourth and inches) or way far away (Hail Mary time!) remember that many teams and businesses can plan on the fourth quarter for their comeback and victory.
Indeed, those last 90 days contain some of the biggest buying holidays of the year, and as the December holidays approach your shoppers are in a spending mood.
Here’s a calendar rundown:
Halloween: No tricks that day and your shopper gets all the treats. Promote “3 for Free!” by offering Free Delivery, Free Pillows and a Free Mattress Protector that week. Substitute Free Box Spring, Bed Frame, Adjustable Base or Mattress Removal as needed. Encourage your associates to wear costumes and give your shoppers an extra few bucks off if they wear a costume (or even bring in pets or kids in costume).
Black Friday: While it hasn’t been officially announced, Black Friday 2020 will start on July 5! Sales seem to pop up earlier every year, so why not give in and sponsor Black November, offering Black Friday Deals every day that month. And since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, you can be the standout store by buying your shoppers a turkey (or tofurky) dinner. Simply purchase a few $25 or $50 gift cards at your local Foodville, Carbs 4 Less or Frugal Hoosier grocery store and use them as incentives to close a deal. Buy a week’s worth and replenish as needed. If you have any left over after the event, you can pass them on to your employees.
December to Remember: While many mattress and furniture stores concede December as a dead month, statistics show that 7.6 percent of mattress sales are made that in those four weeks. Unless you are willing to give up almost 8 percent of your business, this is the time to get aggressive. Every shopper counts! Start a Christmas Club for your sales team and reward them $25 or $50 for a 4-point sale (mattress, adjustable base, pillows and protector). Pay it off on Dec. 20. You may even be able to give it as a gift card; check the tax laws on that one.
When it comes to gift cards, December is a great time to build traffic by offering your past customers a $100 gift card on any $200 purchase in the store made that month. History shows that most shoppers will spend more than $200. You can give that card (or gift certificate) legs by letting your shoppers pass the offer on if they can’t use it.
December 26-31: Some companies and most government agencies have money left in their 2019 budget to spend. You and I see that as a good thing, but in that world, if they don’t spend their entire 2019 budget, they get less for 2020. The result is your local, state and federal trusted employees spend like drunken sailors on leave that week. Plan ahead (Dec. 1 or earlier) to let them know you have goods to sell and deliver immediately.
Remember, the future is now. George Allen, former coach of the Washington Redskins, made that remark as he traded future draft picks for proven players. For us fighting the retail wars, it means trading finance offers for sales today. Sure, some shoppers might feel tapped out in December, but using 12-month financing or even 90-day no-credit-needed terms can get you the sale today, and your shopper delayed billing in 2020. Before accepting that Visa or MasterCard, let your shopper know that they can avoid paying the entire balance next month and avoid high interest charges.
When it comes repetitive and trite statements, nothing beats “coachspeak,” that incredible language shared at high school, college and pro levels. In Q4, be sure to give 110 percent, hit ’em hard and low, and make winning a team effort!
Gordon S. Hecht is Senior Regional Manager, Strategic Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding.