Articles for Retailers - Kizer & Bender

5 Tips to Make Your Store a Stand Out

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender
Printed in eNews October 2018

How’s your sales floor looking these days? Are your store associates ready to take on the day? The time to get your store up to speed is now so you will be ready when Holiday 2018 is in full swing. Here are five tips to help you get there:

Keep Your Eye On the Big Picture.  We’re talking long range goals for you store. Short term goals are important too, but to keep the future bright you need to make future plans. Part of this involves keeping track of retail trends, planning future floor moves, seeking new lines you’d like to add to your inventory, additional training for store associates, etc.

If it sounds overwhelming just remember this African proverb: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”  The same goes for your store goals. You can easily accomplish what you need to do by breaking your goals into smaller, more manageable, easy-to-do steps. Delegate some to your associates. Plan your work, and then work your plan.

2The Customer’s Perception is Your Reality. Every retailer has an opinion of their customer service and it’s usually better than what their customers think. When it comes to service, the customer’s perception is the only one that counts.

Don’t ever assume you know what your customers are thinking because if they’re not happy they probably won’t tell you, they’ll just quietly go someplace to buy what you sell. If you don’t know how your customers define great service then you’re going to have to ask.

For a few hours each month, station yourself near the front door and conduct Exit Interviews. Introduce yourself and ask shoppers leaving the store if they found everything they were looking for.  Ask about their in-store experience and interactions with associates. Inquire about classes or events they’d like to attend or product they wish you carried.

When a customer tells you something good, write it down. Use their positive quotes as testimonials in social media posts, on bag stuffers, email blasts, and on your website. A customer testimonial equals instant credibility because it’s 10 – 20 times more believable than what you have to say about yourself.

3Implement the 7-Tile Rule: Each time anyone – sales associate, stock person, truck driver or CEO comes within seven floor tiles – that’s 7’ – of a customer, they must personally acknowledge that customer. Engage the customer in conversation or look him/her in the eye and smile and nod – whatever makes sense is okay as long as every single customer is acknowledged. You really want to make this a priority? If an associate catches you ignoring a customer, lunch time pizzas are on you every Saturday for a month.

4Practice the 360 Degree Pass-By. You should do an in-depth tour of your sales floor at least once a month, but to keep things in balance do our 360 Degree Pass-By each morning before you unlock the doors for business. This shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes.

Begin with a quick survey of the parking lot, followed by a look at your store front, noting what needs to be fixed before you open. Access the Decompression Zone (the first 5’ to 15’ just inside the front door of the store); make sure the Speed Bumps and other displays at the front of the store are full, fluffed, signed and ready to sell.

Review your in-store signing to ensure it’s in good shape and makes sense where it is placed. Review the impulse items displayed at the cashwrap, making sure there is enough space for shoppers to comfortably complete their transaction. Walk every aisle, noting places that need to be cleared before the store opens.

Double check your merchandise presentation. Are the displays fresh? Do they encourage customers to stop and look and buy? Are there displays missing bin tickets or that need to be restocked, straightened or signed? Look for additional areas to cross-merchandise product to increase your average sale.

5Train Your Team. Your store associates should always be ready to engage with customers. They should be up on the features, advantages and benefits for each item you carry – and if they can’t answer a customer’s question do they know where to go to get help? Place customer service and product training be high on your agenda of things to do each month. Store meetings should be the norm rather than an occasional occurrence.

A renewed emphasis on each of these five things will help you combine a unique in-store experience with great customer service. Each one will help you build positive word of mouth, still the number one thing that brings new customers to your store.


Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at