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R E TA ILER R E B E L

Four Ways to Get Out of the Summer Slump By Gabriel O’Brien

Ah, summertime. Summertime is the thing everyone looks forward to. School kids are looking forward to summer break. Teachers are really looking forward to summer break. Families go on vacations; young people flock to music festivals. But retail stores dread the summer slump. All of these outside activities and travel times mean slow

sales and a drop in lesson enrollment, leaving many retailers looking around wondering if the open sign is on. Summer slumps are for real, and the grind of waiting to hear the door open often drives retail stores toward the negative. Here are four ways to avoid the summer slump.

1

Consider the layout and traffic pattern of your store. This is something I think many stores never even consider, but it can really be of great benefit. If you have an area or product category that’s underperforming, it may be because of where it’s located. Around the counter is obviously prime real estate, but there are other areas in your store where people are spending large amounts of time. If you have a dedicated lessons area, it’s a great place to hang additional guitars and allow students to try them in a lesson. If you have a strong acoustic guitar room, creating a display of acoustic-specific accessories, such as capos, tuners and straps, within that space makes add-ons to sales easy. Thinking about your store in terms of product categories, including product extensions, can drive up ticket totals. If you have a great pedal display, having pedalboards and patch cables with it creates more opportunities to add on to an otherwise simple sale. Have a display of microphone stands? Place microphone clips nearby, as many people don’t know that stands don’t come with one. Take products that you feel like you just can’t sell and put them front and center. If you have a whole area of your store that’s underperforming, try redirecting traffic to that area by using items that get a lot of attention.

2

Create a calendar mapping out the rest of your year so you have sales planned in advance, allowing you to start scheduling social media posts to support those efforts. It may sound like busywork, but this is a highly effective way of getting ahead of the curve. I recently sat down to help plan out online sales through the end of the year, and we’re creating and scheduling social media posts 30 to 60 days ahead of the sales to support them. This gives us the time to properly advertise everything and the flexibility to add other things as we go along. Imagine how much easier Black Friday and Christmas sales would be if you had them planned right now and had all your posts scheduled; not last-minute, thrown-together campaigns, but promotions planned months in advance that automatically post like magic, and you don’t even have to think about them. By creating a schedule for these things ahead of time, you can fill in supporting content as you go. Create video promos, graphics, blog posts and email campaigns all scheduled ahead of time. Staying ahead is a lot less stressful than just-in-time marketing.

3

Clear out aging inventor y. This seems like a no-brainer, right? It’s not. Too often, stores hang on to items that haven’t sold, trying to get maximum margin out of them, when they’d be better off selling them for a little less and using the cashflow to restock the shelves with hot new items that’ll actually turn. When you hit the lean months, this is an easy way to keep yourself in the black and clear space from your shelves for new items. If you’re starting to eyeball things that are about to have a birthday in your store, it’s time for them to find a new home. Use Reverb and eBay to clear out anything that isn’t moving, including accessories and straps. You’d be surprised at how many people scour eBay looking for footswitches, amp covers and all kinds of repair parts. Instrumental Music Center in Tucson has become famous for its “rummage sales.” Events like this are a great way to draw people in, and you can pair them with sales on other items in your store.

4

Hold a giveaway or event. You’d be surprised at how often manufacturers or distributors will just send you free things if you ask. Seriously, it’s good PR for them. Guitar string companies are great about this. Even if you can’t make the freebies happen, holding a free band instrument inspection day where people can bring in school band instruments and get them looked over before the school year begins or holding a free restring event of your own are easy ways to get folks into your store. You don’t have to wait until the holidays to do something. Have Food Truck Fridays, where a local food truck parks in your parking lot and a small band plays, paired with a sale. Hold a giveaway for baseball game tickets to a local minor league game.

Treat the summer slump as a way to reset and try something new instead of letting it drag down your staff morale. Trying new things online or in your store keeps you focused and gives you goals to meet. Think outside the box. Getting people in the door is key. Events and giveaways give your 48

staff an opportunity to interact with the public, and that often includes folks who otherwise might not be in your store. How do you beat the summer slump? What creative tactics do you employ to drive traffic in the slow season? Email me at gabriel@upperhandstudios.com. JUNE 2019

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In June’s Summer NAMM Preview issue, we recap the RPMDA Annual Convention, give insight into what’s in store for Summer NAMM attendees next...