The Last Word: A Holiday Laser Focus

The Last Word: A Holiday Laser Focus


A couple of years ago I spent the Saturday before Christmas helping out at a store. Before the doors opened the owner gathered all of her people to discuss the day’s goals and focus. It went something like this:

“Okay, team. We need to do $14,723 today. We need an average sale of $135 and a UPT of 3.2. Our warranty sales are down 12%, so please focus on that. Our house brands are up 9%, so keep it up. Show Brand Y accessories since they are on sale this weekend. Try to add-on if you can, sell high to low, and greet every customer within 10 seconds.”

And that was just the beginning! She went on like that for at least another three minutes.

What do you think the staff did? That’s right, they did the same thing they did every other day. I don’t remember if they made the sales goal for the day, but if they did it had absolutely nothing to do with what the owner said. It couldn’t, because the owner said way too much. She said so much that she said nothing at all.

To be successful this holiday you need to keep your team focused. Laser focused. Of course, you want to achieve all of your goals, but you won’t do it by telling your staff to focus on “everything.”

There are a small number of things in your store that, if they are done even better than they usually are, will have a big impact on your holiday results. That’s your focus opportunity. That’s where you want to put your laser focus. That’s what is more important than everything else this holiday. That’s what you and your leadership team should talk about every day this holiday.

While I don’t know exactly what your store’s laser focus should be, I can tell you what my clients will focus on this holiday.

The Staff’s Laser Focus

1. A laser focus on an average sale goal. Average sale is the most important metric for the frontline team. It’s not dependent on traffic, and salespeople either achieve it or they don’t with each and every customer. Set a stretch ADS goal, and keep your team laser focused on it. Review individual and store ADS performance on a daily basis. Yes, daily. (You may choose to do this with margin, but I recommend that you still establish a “minimum” ADS target for the staff.)

2. A laser focus on not stopping the sale. About 85% of all sales are stopped by the salesperson. I see it every day. Most salespeople don’t know they’re doing it but they are, by using what I call “sale stoppers.” They ask, “Will there be anything else?” or “Anything else I can help you find.” That’s code for the customer to stop shopping and pay up. You’ll be amazed at how many more sales you and your team can make if you let the customer stop the sale 100% of the time.

The Management Team’s Laser Focus
1. A laser focus on owning the store’s success or failure. It’s easy to blame the Internet, big-box stores, manufacturers, Mother Nature and anything else you can think of for why business is challenging. Blame all you like, but assigning blame won’t change a thing.

Successful leaders will keep a laser focus on what they can control, including their own behaviors and actions. They know what really matters is what takes place between the sales associate and the customer. That is what will determine success or failure. That is where they’ll focus.

2. A laser focus on more coaching. Managers have a tendency to coach less as stores get busier. This is a mistake, because the most productive coaching happens when the store is at its peak. Here are three things managers will do to keep a laser focus on coaching.
•    Meet with each salesperson at the start of his/her shift. This makes sure the employee is focused and ready for the day.
•    Mid-shift check-in. Although this is not always easy to do on peak days, it keeps the staff on track for the day’s priorities and goals.
•    End of day chat-out. A quick (just a minute or two) debrief to review each salesperson’s performance. This adds a level of accountability that is missing in most stores.
A friend of mine loves to say that the speed of the captain is the speed of the ship. The leader’s priorities and focus this holiday will be the priorities and focus of the team.

Let me ask, what will be your team’s laser focus this holiday? 

Doug Fleener is a veteran retailer with 25+ years of hands-on experience. He is the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and has owned and operated his own specialty stores. Fleener is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a Lexington, Massachusetts-based retail and customer-experience consulting firm dedicated to helping retailers elevate their staff, leadership and sales performance.