As I write this, it’s late September, and the big box stores are already starting their holiday sales push. Home Depot has blown up that obnoxiously large Rudolph snow globe that will soon dominate my neighbor’s dormant lawn, and while the shelves at Target are still heavy with Halloween candy, they’re already tempting shoppers with holiday cards and boxes of ornaments.
While you might bemoan the fact that these retailers are unabashedly kicking off the holiday season already — in the third quarter — you definitely will miss out if you say humbug to the holidays until the day after Thanksgiving.
I’m not saying you need to invite Will Ferrell over to help kit out your shop like the North Pole (if you can get him, I say go for it), but the sooner you get your customers in the holiday shopping spirit, the more likely gifts from your store will make it on their holiday wish (and shopping) lists.
Those lists might need a nudge in the right direction. Start your own holiday sales push by having your customers fill out a holiday wish-list in store. You don’t need a fancy kiosk (although it sure wouldn’t hurt!), just a well-designed form that gets your customer’s name, address, e-mail and their significant other’s contact information and a list of a half-dozen items they’d love to get for Christmas. File the form in your Secret Santa stash, and send the customer’s better half a note in the mail so that, naughty or nice, you know what your customer wants under the tree (or better yet, in the garage!).
You should also start your direct mail, e-mail and traditional advertising efforts for the Holiday season by mid-November at the latest. Many shoppers cross off the last items on their lists before they sit down for Thursday turkey — and you don’t want to fall off of their radar.
You may also want to promote a holiday open house. Entice attendees with a Santa photo session. Everyone’s kids will make their way onto his lap in December, and if your customers can avoid the long lines at the mall while checking out your newest P&A, they’ll most likely jump at the chance. It will also expose their kids to a whole new list of wants and make their spouses a little more comfortable in your retail environment.
These non-enthusiast spouses and other shoppers will need your guidance and patience when they venture in on their own. A good percentage of these shoppers will be wives shopping for their husbands. You should view these women as potential clients. For more tips on how you can make your store more female-friendly, check out Margie Siegal’s step-by-step guide on selling to women on page 24 of this issue.
No matter what you do to maximize your sales this holiday season, I wish you luck and congratulate you for making it through this trying year. Watch your mail early in December for the annual Buyer’s Guide — MPN‘s early gift to you — stacked with thousands of powersports products and contact information for virtually every supplier in our industry. Can’t wait ’til then? Hit our online Buyer’s Guide at www.mpnmag.com. It gets updated in real time, so we’ll always have the most up-to-date information available.
-Colleen Brousil and the entire MPN family