Thump the Slump!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Just about any store or person experiences a sales slump sometime in the year. Some slumps last a day, some a couple of days, and some last an excruciating amount of time. Although slumps are a natural part of the business cycle, getting out of one as soon as possible is vital.

Here are some tips to work your way out of a slump.

1. Own your slump. Don't blame the slump on the weather, economy, competitors, customers, or anything else. Own it. Claim it as yours. Take full responsibility. You can't change what you don’t own. Own your slump, and your actions can get you out of it.

2. Identify the core issue. Slumps are an effect, not the core problem. (Read that last line again.) Retail slumps are caused by one or more of the following:

a) Lack of traffic

b) Lower conversion rate

c) Lower average ticket

d) Lower units per transaction

To thump the slump, rank the four core issues from most likely cause to least likely. Most stores quickly say lack of traffic is the issue, but that's not always true. This is why I advise my clients to invest in traffic counters.

(I didn’t include product since that's rarely the issue, but if it is, then it's not a slump—it's a spiral down.)

3. Identify one or two individual actions each employee will take today. Even the best athletes in the world hit a slump, and everyone will say they must play their way out. The basketball player doesn't stop shooting, and the baseball player doesn't quit swinging the bat. We need to play through it, too.

At retail, that means taking high-impact ACTIONS each day to thump the slump. I like two actions per person. The actions should be based on what you've identified as the core issue. If traffic is the issue, then short of wearing a sandwich board outside the store, one of the actions should be the staff calling x number of customers.

Other actions might be to show every customer a particular product, encourage customers to try something on, demonstrate a new product or technology, get a product into a customer's hands, ask a specific question, etc.

You might give each person the same list of actions, but I believe you'll thump the slump faster if each individual works from a personalized list. This way, you can leverage everyone’s strengths and improve a key challenge.

4. Lead the thump charge! Leaders must step up during slumps. Skip the speeches. Leaders need to be on the floor encouraging the team, giving feedback, and keeping people focused on success. Leaders also need to do what they ask everyone else to do. Leaders go first.

It's also a great time to run a one-day contest, role-play with each employee, and/or do anything else to lead the team to a great day. It's not a time to retreat to the office, point fingers, sulk, or demonstrate other behaviors that keep the slump alive.

I hope you're not currently in a slump, but the next time you are, you'll be ready to claim it, identify the issues, act, and lead the thumping of the slump.

So let me ask three questions:
1. If slumps had a 12-step program, would the first step be admitting you have a slump? (“Hi. I’m Doug. I’m in a slump and need help.”)

2. Have you ever been so awesome in thumping a slump that you had to worry about the slump filing a restraining order?

3. Even if you’re not in a slump, what actions can your staff take today to prevent one?

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Blog by Doug Fleener

The Daily Performance Expert

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