How to handle reduced footfall

Adam Hankinson, Managing Director at Furniture Sales Solutions, shares some tips on making the most of reduced footfall, especially when the weather can be too hot to handle.

As a furniture store owner in the UK, this summer, you’re now probably delighted that you made that slightly nervous decision to buy a container full of garden furniture in January!

At 25 degrees celsius for the last four weeks, greatly reduced footfall in stores, and a sweaty and demoralised sales team, anyone who says they’re breaking records selling beds, sofas and flooring is clearly telling porkies. So, how can we make the most of the customers that are coming in without appearing desperate?

As ever we need to start with our attitude which is about how we view the current weather, how it affects the buying market and how we judge and perceive the customers that are coming in to our stores. A helpful way to look at things is to remind ourselves that if we were off on a very warm day of the week would we be in a furniture store if we didn’t have at least some level of interest or a least see ourselves somewhere on the buying journey-one that often starts online and then hopefully moves to looking in store for ideas and inspiration. So, rule one is to remind ourselves and our sales teams that anyone coming into your store at the moment IS somewhere in the market.

We should also stop bleating about how hot it is, how quiet it is and how annoying the customers that are coming in are for “tyre kicking” their way around the store. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A TYRE KICKER!

So, every day we need to give ourselves a really strong pep-talk and gee up to be positive, interested and open minded with every potential customer, treat everyone fairly and ask good questions. Get from behind the desk. What’s the first thing a sales colleague does when starting their days work?

Very often it’s to switch on their computers and sit down checking or send emails-before they know it its 11 am and they’ve not looked up! On a store follow up visit just yesterday I coached a sales representative to avoid this trap and within 30 minutes they had made a sale- not rocket science you say but every day there are buying signals missed because sales people are preoccupied with emails and anything other than talking with customers.

Be busy doing something none threatening. Hoovering, cleaning, dusting, moving products around the showroom are all daily tasks but they want to be done deliberately with the purpose of not looking like you’re ready to pounce. If you’re busy cleaning you can still say hello and the customer will engage with you in a much more natural way often saying something like “will you come and do mine at home?” This breaks the ice beautifully.

Talk about the weather- it’s the number one subject of British conversation so embrace it. “Thanks for bringing the sun out with you- big smile from you- the customer will say something back and guess what …you’re into a conversation. Slow everything down and remove any desperation from your tone and demeanour.

With fewer customers coming in you have all the time in the world to sit and chat with your browsers. They will appreciate your relaxed no pressure approach and genuine interest in them. Ask great open questions. Once you’ve broken the ice use the who, what, where, when, why and how questions that you should have in your arsenal to understand the customer’s needs and wants and discover what’s important to them and make it important to you.

Finally, start to confirm various elements as you go, style, comfort, delivery timescale-whatever boxes need ticking for the customer to help them and you get nearer their final decision-to go ahead. In summary then your job on these hot and sweaty days is to remain as cool and calm as a cucumber and give your relaxed but full attention to anyone that does come in because if they come into a furniture store when it’s 29 degrees outside, they’re definitely in the market.

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