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Elly Valas: Stop Worrying and Start Focusing on Sales

Retailers can find good news during bad economic times of higher food and gas prices, low consumer confidence

July 2008 By Elly Valas

When retailer H. H.Gregg first moved into the Atlanta market, their advertising focused on their “Call Ahead” delivery policy, promising customers to call them two hours before the delivery crew were scheduled to arrive. Although other retailers the same thing, H.H.Gregg was the only one that used the policy as an advertising.

Let customers know they can call to make appointments to ensure that an associate will be available when they come in-even if it’s after hours. Tell shoppers your installers are CEDIA certified or that your associates participate in mandatory product and sales training every week. Don’t hesitate to sell your staff as career professionals. Publicize awards you’ve won from trade associations, industry groups or magazines. You only get to be retailer of the year if you know your stuff.

Monitor your customer satisfaction to ensure outstanding service. Tell your clients you’ll be in touch with them to answer any questions that may come up after they’ve used their products for a week or so. Call customers to ensure they are satisfied with the purchase experience. Field any questions they have and ask if they’d buy from you again. Finally, ask them to refer friends.

Customer dissatisfaction happens when there is a disconnect in the experience customers think they’re going to get and what is actually delivered. Warehouse clubs are successful because they deliver on their no-frills, low-price promise. If you’re claiming to be the best, then your store needs to shine and your team needs to dress and act like professionals.

If you’ve done all of this and you’re convinced the service experience you offer is a reason to buy from you, there’s one more promise that will help drive customers to your store: Offer to refund the cost of the gas it took to get to your store to anyone who feels the quality of service you delivered didn’t match expectation.

When gas is over $4 a gallon, every customer who comes to your store is a buyer. Your job is to make sure they buy from you and not from your competitors.

Elly Valas is a retail consultant and industry expert. You can reach her at 303/316-7568 or at Visit her website at

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