5 Tips to Get Your Retail Store Ready to Open

Start the day the right way to set your self up for big sales.

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I'm not a morning person. One of the main reasons I got into retail 30 years ago was because we didn't open till 10 am. I will stay up till midnight doing inventory with you but don't like interacting with customers (or employees) too early in the mornings. However, I also knew that as the store owner, what I did in the first 60 minutes set the tone for the day. Many times I could trace our success or lack of it to my morning preparation!

Here are five things you should do every morning to set the tone and prepare your store for a great selling day:

1. Arrive One Hour Before Opening 

If you are the opening manager on the schedule, be in the store at least one hour prior to opening the doors. First, this lets you get the store ready for the day in a non-rushed manner. You will have stuff (issues) from yesterday that you will need to deal with like special orders or customer problems. But, your priority must be TODAY'S sales and not yesterday's issues. 

I know many store owners will cut back the opening crew to save payroll costs, but I have seen time and time again, that a skeleton opening crew that is overworked and underprepared to face the day will sell less compared to a fresh crew. The one employee is scrambling to get the store open and meantime the first customer comes in and even if they buy, buys less than what they could have because they were waiting for a distracted salesperson. What I mean by this (and many of you can relate) if you are still thinking about opening the store when waiting on the customer, you are not thinking about add-on sales opportunities or higher margin items. You are thinking about getting the customer out the door as quickly as possible so you can finish your opening checklist.

This goes under the heading of tripping over dollars to pick up pennies. I agree that your payroll will be less, but your sales could be too. Sales cures all ills for sure. Your job is to prepare the store to sell. 

Plus, if you're ready and a customer shows up at 9:45 am, you can provide an excellent customer experience and open the doors early just for them. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting in your car waiting for the people to open the store. (Especially when you can see all the employees just sitting inside waiting for the clock to strike 10!) 

2. Survey From the Threshold 

The most impactful impression your customer gets when they enter your store is when they first walk in the door. After you have turned off the alarm, go back to the front entrance. (yes, I said after you shut off the alarm meaning before you go to your desk or office.) Turn and stand at the door and survey your store. What holes do you see in merchandising? What products got sold off the shelves, but not replaced? Are there any signs missing? Are you drawn to the different departments? Does it look inviting? Is there trash anywhere? Are there lightbulb out anywhere? 

Make a list of everything you see and set your team to rectifying before you open. Many retailers start their to-do lists after the store opens, but this means the first few customers get a different experience than the rest that day. You must exceed expectations every customer every time. And that starts by being fully ready for the first one. 

3. Focus on Customer Experience

As you survey and as you prepare, look at things from the customer's point of view, not your own. It's so easy as a store owner to get trapped in the "operational" view of the store versus the experienced view. Are the merchandise and store ready to deliver on the experience? In my book, Culturrific! I talk about the fact that your product is the customer experience, not merchandise. People will pay more for an experience, so get your store and people ready to deliver an exceptional one. 

4. Focus on People

We tend to focus our mornings on the store and not on our employees. Sure we say good morning as we hand them their to-do list, but the truth is we need to spend time preparing them to sell. Is their mind ready to sell? Are they focused? Are the motivated? Are they frustrated? Spend at least 15 minutes with your opening team getting them ready to sell. In some instances, it may simply be nothing more than a friendly conversation about what they did on their day off You do not have to be Zig Ziglar or Tony Robbins, but you are responsible for their attitudes. And their attitudes are directly responsible for their sales and the customer experience they provide. 

5. Finish the Day Ready for Tomorrow 

Now, this one may sound odd as a tip for the morning, but the best advice I can give is to not let your closing staff go home until the store is ready to open. Too often, the closing team will do the minimum and then leave it for the opening team to pick up after them. The most important thing an employee can do for you is sell, period! Your policies should be such that they put every employee in a position to sell. While it does mean the closing team is there later, it's during "non-selling" times. And, they are there after the selling period has finished and not right before it starts. Consider your mindset and attitude if you have a store ready for business in the morning when you arrive before you have to sell versus having to rush to get it ready before you sell. What will your selling power be if you had to rush?