This week I am teaching EntreLeadership Performance Series here in Tennessee, and will be finishing the week off with a couple of Formula races in Savannah. I’ve asked some of the incredibly talented commenters of this blog to share their wisdom. Here’s a great post by Jana Botkin. Jana is an extraordinary artist. You can see her work here. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.
When I first decided to become an artist, all I knew was how to draw. I had more jobs than anyone else. Unfortunately, most were great examples of how not to do business.
And then, along came Shirley Goodness. In 1990, she opened a gift shop on the main street of our small rural town, population 8,500.
For some reason, Shirley liked me and my artwork. First, she wanted my note cards to sell in her shop, then my prints and finally my originals. Next, she asked me to work for her part-time. Eventually, she made space for my studio within her store.
Most of what I know about business, I learned from Shirley. She understood retail, resale, merchandising, marketing and human nature.
Here are her most powerful lessons on retail that can be applied to almost any business:
- Make things easy on the customer. Offer to let her take it home and try it out, put things on hold, have a layaway plan, hand him a pen, give her a box to dump her purse into when she can’t find her keys, make sure every picture is ready to hang. Do whatever the customer needs to make a decision to buy.
- Be discreet. You don’t know if that gift is for a surprise party or that the customer just broke the family budget. Just keep quiet.
- Presentation is everything. Rework your displays often, take things out of the plastic, gift wrap in a signature style, pay attention to color and scale, use calligraphy if you know it. Make things look as appealing as possible.
- Even in a down economy, the rich still have money. When a big freeze hit the local citrus industry, Shirley still bought some high-end items for her store. Those with money bought nice things to soothe their worries.
- Don’t sight-qualify. Some of the wealthiest people drive the worst looking cars. (I may be in danger of getting mistaken for a rich person.)
- Whatever is next to the beating heart will sell. This is why space by the cash register is so valuable. Whenever Shirley was reworking a display, items would sell before she finished.
- Be nice to everyone. A total stranger would ask her for a donation, and she’d just smile and say, “I think I’ll pass this time.” You never know when someone will remember your kindness (and your great looking store) and return as a customer.
Question: What are the best business tips you’ve learned from your Shirley Goodnes