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April 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 4
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Retailers: Increase Your Sales by Juggling Customers

Teach employees how to juggle now, reap in sales later

Slow sales have produced a retail sales force that is used to working with just one person. It’s like a juggler who can only keep one ball in the air. Or an ostrich with their head in the sand; they are oblivious to the rest of the customers in the store.  That can cost you sales – big time.

I had a business owner tell me last month that he had, “A really great gal but she spends about 1/2 hour with each customer.” OK that’s not a really great gal if she can only wait on 16 people in a day. It would be like a McDonald’s only able to serve the number of people who could sit down in their dining area. They’d lose their profitabilty because fast food is a numbers game.

So is retail.

Your employees have to be able to juggle many customers and make sure they each feel like they are important and valued.

If a customer comes in while they are with someone else they should say, “Excuse me, do you mind if I go greet that customer? I’ll be right back.” Then wait for their permission and go to the new arrival. If you can have the customer read something or put a product in their hands before leaving, so much the better.

When the employee returns to the original customer they must say, “Thank you for waiting,” and restate where they were in the sale. For example, “So we were looking for a toy for your son who likes art but hates clay. Is that right?”

It’s important they do not say to the current customer, “Hold on, I need to go greet them” and leave or yell, “Someone will be right with you,” to the new arrival.  You need them to be hospitable, not hostile. That’s why we ask permission to leave and thank them when we return.

Next time you’re in a busy restaurant notice the best servers, they can do this easily.  You can tell because they check in frequently with their tables, upsell and focus on those customers while always keeping their heads up for who just sat down at their station.

Slow sales have allowed complacency in most retailers. More employees behind the counter. More dismissive expressions, “They’re just looking.”  Don’t let your employees get away with being more comfortable with only one person, train now how to juggle many customers.

Otherwise that one person will buy, but the majority who try your store, especially when its busy, will walk out because they were ignored. And in this environment, never be back.

As you develop juggling to an art, you’ll find your busy store produces the best results because people are comfortable waiting and shopping; many times selling each other as heads-up employees act like hosts rather than order takers.

You have the potential to have a great holiday season if you get your head around this concept and train for it.  Do it now and be on the news crowing about your great holiday sales in December.  Ignore it and potentially lose sales, your business, your home.

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Bob PhibbsWriter's Bio: Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor®, a best-selling author and speaker who has helped thousands of independent businesses compete. His new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business has received praise from both Inc. magazine and USA Today and can be found at your local bookstore or ordered at He and his work have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine. Questions? Contact Bob at This article was reprinted with permission of the author, Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor®. Read more articles by this author

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