Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

Countertalk For the Counterperson: Knowledge Building: Tips For Boosting Sales

Partly because most jobbers can trace their background to automotive interests and not retailing, and partly because the bulk of their business is to the trade, many do not have a strong background in marketing beyond the telephone upsell.

As valuable as that experience and knowledge is, there are many more resources at hand that can boost sales to the retail customer, the walk-in trade customer and even that all-important trade customer whose exclusive contact with your store is through the phone line and the delivery driver.

Here is a brief list of tips that can help boost sales:

Use handwritten signs to advertise price reductions. Studies show such signs can increase sales by 43%.

Provide product information at point-of-sale-customers want information to make informed buying decisions.

Break your products into categories and display them this way, such as grouping gas line anti-freeze, gas treatments, oil treatments, synthetic oils. Category product management can bring discipline and structure to your product presentation.

Don’t forget promotions; they can increase sales in particular products, pull customers into the showroom, motivate trade customers and introduce new products.

Build a customer database or mailing list and send postcards or flyers to announce chemical and additive sales and/or seasonal offerings.

Make sure all staff are trained in customer service, not just the counterpeople. Considering the number of times a delivery driver meets a customer, it is not hard to understand why they are an important part of your customer relations.

Develop a customer feedback system such as by using customer comment cards. A number of jobbers have found researching their customers’ impressions very valuable, even if they didn’t necessarily like the answers.

Set quantifiable sales goals and reward your employees for achieving and exceeding sales targets. Rewarding non-sales staff should also be strongly considered.

Provide on-going training in sales techniques. Talk to your manufacturers about sales clinics.

Make sure any markdowns are just that. Customers resent phony sales.

Make sure you have good stock for items you advertise and promote in the showroom.

Demonstrate products when possible or tell in detail how they are used.

Put some promotional signs near the entrance to the showroom where they are sure to be seen.

Don’t overdo signage. Too many signs add clutter and distract from product offerings.

Use product packages as a source for information about product features and benefits.

Jobbers should continuously address the level of training of their staff in both product knowledge and customer relations. Both these areas are dynamic and cannot be dealt with effectively on a one-time basis; products change and so do staff.

In addition to updating the knowledge base of staff, revisiting the basics also serves to remind staff of things they already know and have perhaps forgotten to focus on since the last time they attended training or reviewed training materials.

Customer service, sales, and store merchandising should be viewed as among the most important areas of staff training and should be treated as such.

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