Last week, we had a really productive staff meeting. The meeting had two parts: the reality part, and the brainstorming part.
The reality part of a staff meeting is where I share with the staff some of the money facts of the store. I think it’s really important to let your staff know how the store is doing, or if you have a monetary monthly goal in mind. We necessarily set these kinds of goals because I feel like so much of the store being busy is out of your hands. So, I set a challenge for everyone to sell two extra books a day. I read somewhere that a bookseller’s goal was to sell five extra books a day; I loved the idea and am freely copying it.
The challenge of selling two extra books per person is actually fairly complex. You just can’t say to a customer, “buy an extra book today, would ya?” This is where the art of handselling comes to play. By listening to a customer you can tell if they are jealous about getting only their kids summer reading books. All it takes is asking them if they’d like a book for summer. And more often than not, simply by checking in with a customer more than once can change a transaction for the better. People will often say they don’t need help when first asked, but after a few minutes, when asked again nicely if they need help, they will often say yes and then tell you what they’re looking for.
We’re also viewing summer as Christmas, not just for increased sales, but for the fact that some of these customers we’ll only see once. While we can order most any book and get in often the next day, that doesn’t seem fast enough to someone on vacation who’s desperate to read “that book now.” Our job is to do our best to get that book, but if we can’t we should always suggest another title instead. There are plenty of times when someone really only wants a particular book, but many folks are just eager for a really good book. It’s our job as booksellers to make another book sound just as appealing. This is a skill. First, the bookseller has to understand precisely what the customer is seeking and secondly, be able to come up with another title that fits that bill, and thirdly to be able to talk about it with passion.
At the meeting we brainstormed different ways to get customers in the door. How do we create an event that will draw in people on a regular basis. One staffer, JP, suggested having summer reading book talks. We all agreed that this was a great idea. So, once a week, starting next week for an hour, we’ll be offering our suggestions for summer reading for any and all who want to come. We’re working with a local lunch cafe to provide light refreshments, so we’ll promote his food and get a massive discount.
I have no idea how many people will come, but I love the idea of having to prepare for a booktalk each week. It will just make us all better booksellers and it’s fun to talk about our favorite books.