Dare to be Different
How can you surprise and delight without whipping out your store credit card? A few suggestions:
• Live music is an attention getter and pleasurable shock to most folks. It could be a local high school jazz trio, live DJ or keyboardist--they all can bring enjoyment and elongate any visit. Does anyone on staff DJ or play an instrument? Is the local high school band willing to make a field trip? You might be surprised at what you learn. If the gig is a paid one, offer gift cards.
• Regarding food, spice it up. Roll out your beloved popcorn cart, pop dozens of delicious bags and sprinkle them with selected BBQ spices you stock plenty of. Product synergy at work.
• Kids are bored while adults browse. Moving beyond popcorn or lollipops, offer them an easy-to-pull-off activity. Coloring papers and having them sign their name is typically a hit. Creating flowers out of paint color chips and stir sticks is another popular offering.
Aside from old standbys like demos and discounts, here are tips to make your next event one to remember.
Mark Your Calendars:
Decide on event themes, dates and times early. Get them on shared calendars--even creating Facebook event pages for each with just basic information is a great start. Bonus points awarded for doing this a full year in advance.
Time to Marinate:
Meet early and often to shape your events. Involve your staff heavily-- empower them to design, execute and feel invested. Designate an event captain to run it in person. While events are for our customers, your team will benefit greatly from the excitement and positive energy they create.
The Nose Always Knows:
Roll out the demo BBQ grill. Traeger, Big Green Egg, Weber or whatever you prefer. Nothing attracts folks to your doors like tickled senses at the promise of something delectable. If you wisely include a BBQ component, be careful about overspending. Can you grill something creative and inexpensive like cookies, bread or a pretzel mix? Also, be aware of any local health department regulations that could prematurely extinguish your cookout.
Give it Away, Give it Away Now:
Involving a local charity will bolster your event and bring feel good energy. It engages the community and helps those in need. Proven options include a register Round Up, raffle ticket sales for free vendor products, chocolate bar promos, and bag/bucket sales. Looking for free goods to raffle off? Speak to your vendor rep, explain your fundraising plan and you’ll likely be happy with what they supply. Additionally, an on-site charity representative makes a tremendous impact.
Players in Position:
Store operations strive for the right person doing the right job at the right time...right? An event should be no different. Are your most outgoing staff on the sales floor or doing demos? Do you have the right amount of folks scheduled at the grilling area or are you overloaded? How about enough cashiers to avoid wait times? Be prudent, but not miserly here.
Make your next event succeed through out of the box options and your customers and staff will thank you!
Craig Smith is the owner of Fairfax Ace Hardware in Fairfax, Virginia. He is a member of the Ace Hardware national marketing Retailer Input Team and Retailer Group Leader for the Washington, DC region.