Retailer to Retailer: Retaining sane in an insane market

Cheryl Kees Clendenon, proprietor of In Element Interiors

By Cheryl Kees Clendenon

The top of the world shouldn’t be coming. I mentioned it. I imply it. Can all of us simply cease for a second in our hectic day and acknowledge this truth?

Whether or not you run a design agency, a big retail retailer or a small dwelling accents boutique, we’re all conscious of the challenges going through our busy trade. It’s talked about advert nauseam in Fb teams, on frantic texts amongst enterprise proprietor mates, within the halls of bigger corporations and within the avalanche of emails from distributors that start with, “On this unprecedented yr…”.

Provide and demand is hitting us laborious. Distributors and reps are juggling the identical points however we’re their purchasers and clients. Blaming them and subjecting customer support folks to a scene from Psycho is a little bit of irony once we are fuming about our personal purchasers and clients not “understanding” the scenario.

Now, tips on how to proceed with out shedding our thoughts, our sanity or our lunch the following time “the” letter arrives or a consumer tosses a tantrum worthy of an Oscar? (If you happen to have been me you may purchase a couple of of those statuettes and provides them out with a bottle of wine — however that’s my humorousness.)

Put together your crew for what lies forward. I concern it will worsen earlier than it will get higher. They will help you put together your purchasers and clients. Arrange coaching to deal with the present lead instances and the stress of a consumer or buyer being upset. Communication is essential. Nobody desires to be misled.

Cease apologizing to your clients or purchasers. They get one apology and that’s sufficient. As an alternative, provide a concise clarification as to what the availability chain catastrophe appears to be like like and the data you might be on their crew and are doing all your best possible to attenuate the inconvenience.

Distract purchasers and clients with one other focus. We’ve got opened up a Candle Studio and have plans to have occasions revolving round this in a small occasion house on our property. It’s an excellent event-based revenue middle with low entry prices, and it will possibly expose folks to your store or studio.

There’s no time like the current to hone in on sturdy relationships with clients and distributors alike. Stable relationships require glorious communication, which might clean wrinkles. Discuss to your reps. Have them are available for lunch-and-learns. Understand they and customer support are in the identical boat all of us are.

Plan for ground stock buying like by no means earlier than. This forces even the smaller boutiques to be ahead desirous about budgets and gross sales figures and projections into fourth quarter and Q1 of 2022. Make your lists for market in June and discover a small warehouse you’ll be able to hire when you don’t have one.

In case you are a small retailer or designer, it’s extremely seemingly a few of your accounts may very well be in jeopardy. When provide is low and demand excessive, the low hanging fruit will probably be minimize first as a result of it’s a vendor’s market. If it catches you unaware, the fallout might be big.

Concentrate on the way you ship your consumer expertise. We begin the connection off with a win once we ship a small present card to Starbucks or a desert store with a hand-written be aware in our branded be aware playing cards to all new consultations. We are actually making an attempt native tie-ins in order that we are able to cross-promote.

If none of that works, and you continue to get in any other case rational people driving you batty, then maybe take a web page out of my very southern granny’s guide: make your response to the umpteenth inquiry, “Properly bless your coronary heart.” Grasp saying this with equal components compassion and rebuke and you’ve got the quintessential response.

You want your entire wits about you heading into the remainder of 2021 and Mrs. Cranky Pants or Mr. Stress Bucket shouldn’t be allowed to steal your mojo. They’ll make it by means of this. So will you.

Cheryl Kees Clendenon owns In Element Interiors, a retail store and full-service design agency in Pensacola, Fla., and runs a Fb group for designers and retailers referred to as Small Enterprise Assume Large. You possibly can electronic mail her with feedback or questions at

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