Do you install bateries, brakes, struts, CV joints or perform oil and lube, tune-up or air conditioning repair service? Chances are you've answered "yes" to at least one part of that question. But would I have any way of knowing about your extra services if I pass by your business on my way to work ever day?
Many owners make the mistake of assuming people who patronize or pass by their stores on a regular bases already are familiar with their full range of services. Unfortunately, this often isn't the case.
Coming in to purchase a set of tires won't automatically make customers aware that your service department also does muffler and exhaust replacement unless you let them know through an in-store merchandising program.
Having counter employees talk to customers about extra services is an important part of any merchandising program, but that isn't enough by itself.
Your employees may be too busy to talk with customers about extra services. And, with turnover being what it is today, many of your counter people simply don't have the knowledge or experience needed to sell the customer.
Instead of relying on counter employees to inform customers about your extra services, you'll probaly find it more effective to deliver your merchandising message with window and in-store signage.
In many respects, the store owner who doesn't promote his or her extra services with signage is like a person keeping the proverbial candle under the basket.
The candle may be bright, but its light will never be appreciated by anyone as long as it is kept out of sight.
Like all business tools, howerver, in-store signage must be used properly if it's going to achieve the desired results.
My experience developing signs for the retail industry has taugh me that there are four basic rules of creating a good signage program.
1) Keep signs visible! Your signs will be effective only if they can easily be seen by customers, so don't position signs in out-of-the-way areas or in places where they are likely to be obstructed. A sign positioned directly behind your cash register will be more visible than any other sign in your store.
Some retailers make the common mistake of positioning signs on the front of their service counters (about waist level for most people). This kind of positioning will cause your merchandising message to be overlooked by most customers.
2) Use professional-looking signs! The quality of your signs speaks volumes to the customer about your store and the quality of the services it provides.
A sign that is chipped, faded or has a ``homemade'' appearance not only gives customers a negative impression of your extra services, it also will reflect badly on your entire business. Signs that look like they were created back when Ike was in the White House also will fail to inspire trust and confidence among customers.
3) Make signs bright! Studies show that signs that are brightly colored and lighted are much more effective at attracting customer attention at the point of sale.
4) Keep signs varied! Astute retail marketers long have known that consumers soon grow bored seeing the same things every time they visit a store. Changing your signage periodically will allow you to add a touch of variety.
It also is imperative to change signs with the season when promoting services whose popularity goes up and down at different times of the year.
You can vary your signage program by purchasing different signs and rotating them or by using a sign that has an interchangeable face panel.
If you only have one sign without an interchangeable face panel, you can still add variety to your signage presentation by moving it from one area of your store to another. But keep in mind that the same sign positioned in one section of your store will have a different impact on customers when it is moved to another area. For example, a sign located by your register is going to promote your extra service to regular customers. But that same sign moved to your front window will inform the general public about your store.
Regardless of where you position your sign, be aware that good signage not only attracts the attention of customers, but also makes them curious about the extra services you are promoting. So when using new signage, be prepared to answer more customer inquiries about your extra services.
As a retailer, you should welcome these questions because the more customers learn about what you have to offer, the more likely they are to buy. This is an educational process that often begins with signs.
Ms. Fischer is the manager of national marketing and sales for TecArt Industries Inc., a Farmington Hills, Mich-based sign company.