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Hiring Teens: What You Need to Know


TeensBy Nicole Reyhle

Plan to hire teens to work in your museum store this summer? Make sure you are up to speed with the special laws and considerations you need to  take in order to effectively manage them and keep your business safe.

1. Review federal and state laws on teen employment. Some states have rules on what types of jobs teens are not allowed to perform, and the nation also sets various rules that may keep you from hiring a teen. To help you gain more info, look under “child labor rules” at

2. Know what you must pay in order to meet the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
. They set minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping details and more specific to child labor rules affecting full and part time workers in the private sector. The rules vary depending on the age of the young worker and his or her duties. And know this… Once an employee is 18, there are no Federal child labor rules. Additionally, Federal child labor rules do not require work permits.

3. Review the Department of Labor rules of youth employment. Called Youth Rules, you can gain these details at Expect to find information and links to almost everything you need to know about both federal and state rules and limits on the hours teens are allowed to work, and jobs they can perform.

Additionally, review the hours and other teen specific details below for teens employed in non-agricultural jobs*:

  • Minimum age is 14.
  • Those 18 or older may perform any job (hazardous or not) for unlimited hours.
  • Youth 16 or 17 may perform any non-hazardous job for unlimited hours.
  • Youth 14 and 15 years old may work outside school hours in non-manufacturing, non-mining, non-hazardous jobs. They cannot work more than three hours a day on school days; or more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
  • During the school year, 14- and 15-year-olds may not work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. However, during the summer that’s extended to 9:00 p.m.

*State labor laws can differ. Check the list of State Labor Offices to find the appropriate agency in your state. Visit here for more info.

Finally, be sure to train your teens just like you would any other staffer in your museum store. Part time or full time, all your employees should understand your store expectations and customer service standards. Be sure to also identify any “off limit” responsibilities, as well.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder of Retail Minded, Publisher of Retail Minded Magazine, Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and an international speaker, adviser and trusted retail expert for many retail focused events, groups and businesses. Get in touch with Reyhle at and follow Reyhle on Twitter at @RetailMinded.

10 areas to focus on to conduct your own museum store audit


Contributed by Lyn Falk, owner, educational speaker and designer at Retailworks Inc, an award-winning, nationally recognized design firm located in Mequon, Wis.

A little refurnishing and repurposing every year can go a long way in a tired space. And even an energetic space full of vitality can benefit from a redo every so often. You can conduct your own “audit” or bring in a professional. (If you can’t see the forest for the trees, we recommend the latter!) Do whatever works to help you keep things interesting for your customers. You and your staff will feel the renewed energy of the space, as will your cash register.

Telling stories by interweaving textures, utilizing hot new finishes for walls and floors, and creating the unexpected ensures that your store becomes a destination in and of itself, not just a side trip while in the museum.

Here are 10 areas to address during your museum store audit:

1. First Impressions

What’s the first thing your customers see when they walk into your space? Is there an identifiable theme? A strong brand? Is it enticing? Inspiring? Is it well lit? Are there visible signs and an open traffic aisle? Music? Aroma? All of these items work together to instantly give a first impression. Without a good impression, you won’t get customers shopping and buying.

2. Color

Does the color palette you’ve selected set the tone for the mood you wish to create? Does it reflect your brand? Does it support the merchandise you have on display? Do you have an accent wall you can change color from time to time—just for fun, or to feature a new line of merchandise?

3. Lighting

Varying your light levels adds dimension to your space and positively affects your customers’ and employees’ psyches and biorhythms. If your space is currently lit only by fluorescent lights, punch it up with track lighting or table and floor lamps. Add a chandelier or some fun pendant lights over your checkout counter. Lighting is the most important design element in your space. If you aren’t illuminating your space properly, your sales are definitely suffering.

4. Aromas

How does your store smell? Are there musty odors that need to be eliminated? Adding a fresh, natural aroma can really add to the customer experience. But, understand that “natural” when it’s a synthetic chemical-based aroma can be irritating to those who have allergies or asthma. Natural scents such as fresh brewed coffee (the key here is “fresh”!), a couple of drops of essential oil (i.e., lavender) in a ceramic warming bowl, or a crock pot with orange peels and cinnamon sticks are great natural ways to set a mood via the olfactory sense.

5. Acoustics

What welcomes your customers into your space? The sounds of your environment also help to set a mood. Do you have music playing that puts a spring in the stop of your shoppers? Are you playing music that reflects or enhances art on display?

The tempo and genre of music will definitely have an effect on consumer behavior. Be sure to select the type that is right for your target market.  

6. Layout/Way-Finding

Did you know that strategically locating focal points throughout your store will lead customers effortlessly throughout the space? The feet follow the eyes, so place an attention-getting focal point every 15-20 feet and watch how your customers change their shopping behaviors. You’ll be surprised how well this works!

7. Interior Signage

Good signage seems straightforward, yet in the grand scheme of running a business, it can easily be overlooked or done poorly. Signage should follow predetermined guidelines so all your sale signs look similar, all your product benefit signs look similar, all your department signs look similar, etc. Properly implemented design guidelines train your customers to look for certain messages. Strategically placed signs make it easy for your customers to navigate your space. Scribbled signs taped to your window or a display? Never a good thing!

8. Fixtures & Furnishings

Do your fixtures coordinate with one another? Too many styles will only serve as a distraction. Are your fixtures well stocked? Empty shelves don’t reflect well on your business as a whole, not to mention the product line. Do the fixtures support your image and brand? Are you able to squeeze a chair or bench in your space for waiting spouses or parents? If not in the shop, perhaps right outside? 

9. Interactive& Informative Displays

Do you have displays that entice, inspire and inform, placed throughout the store? Do you have QR codes or apps that get customers interacting via their smart phones? Changing your displays often, and making them fun and informative, is a sure way to keep your customers engaged throughout their shopping experience.

10. Lasting Impressions

Does the checkout counter provide a good professional experience? Are the shopping bags fun and reusable? What’s the last thing a customer sees before he/she exits the space? Is it memorable? Positive? Do you thank them as they exit?

A little effort and a few significant changes can totally change the feel of your shop. Increased interest and sales will follow.

Have you made any changes lately that yielded positive results? Tell us about them!

10 simple ways to kill time on slow days in the museum store


TimeThere are slow days and then there are S…L...O...W...D...A...Y...S.

We get it.

So what can you do to help motivate yourself and your team to keep the energy of your museum store alive, upbeat and in the selling spirit? Here are 10 tips to get you through slow days—with a focus on helping you thrive on busy days!

1. Dust. Yes, dust. It seems so simple—and so boring—and yet, so necessary. Customers notice the little things and dust certainly falls into this category.

2. Create a customer loyalty action plan. Too few retailers actually have a loyalty program put in place, even if it’s as simple as monitoring who is buying what and when they are buying it.

3. Shop your competitors. Online, that is. Since you’re likely in your store, we understand you can’t physically be in your competition’s store. That said, you can dissect what they are up to online. Check out their website and social media pages. Constructively identify what they are doing well and what you think you can do to better compete with them. Have the chance to physically get in their stores? Definitely do that, as well.

4. Clean out your drawers, closets, storage rooms, etc. Every store—just like every home—has that “area.” You know the one—the one that you constantly shove things into despite the fact that you know it’s not helping you accomplish anything even while doing it. Wherever your stash is of unopened mail, broken inventory, half finished employee reviews and receipts you forget to write off, finally take the time to clean this area up. It’s amazing how great you feel once this is done.

5. Play on Pinterest. And by play, we mean get inspired! There are so many amazing window displays, in-store merchandising ideas and countless other retail inspired details that Pinterest users worldwide are sharing for this reason alone: for others to see. The catch? Don’t get lost in your time on Pinterest. Give yourself 30 minutes to unveil whatever it is you are looking for; from an inspiring display to a savvy cash wrap area, we’re sure  you will find something.

6. Create employee reviews. This takes more time than just one slow day and the necessary time to actually review your employees is needed as well, but action steps to identify, review and evaluate your employees are important for your business growth, your store’s success and, of course, your employees, as well.

7. Write a press release. Then send it to your local media! Easier said than done, but the idea is to generate store visibility and introduce new customers to your store. Whether you want to discuss new inventory you have received that may have some interesting benefits—maybe it’s Fair Trade or handmade—or you want to highlight news of an upcoming event, there is, or at least should be, always something to say and share.

8. Call long-forgotten customers. Sometimes the best way to gain repeat customers is to let them know you miss them. Reach out to customers you haven’t seen in awhile, telling them of upcoming events or in-store promotions. Make your call friendly, but short and sweet. Not all customers will love a phone call (that’s just reality), but for those who do, it will be well worth it.

9. Enhance your email communication. Online marketing goes well beyond social media. Email marketing is a big factor when it comes to customer attention, retention and overall store awareness. Evaluate your current email marketing strategies and consider what you can do better.

10. Get up and move, move, move! Too often retailers stay tucked behind their computers and never take the time to walk their stores from a customer’s perspective. Spend time in your store as if you were a customer, interacting and moving around. What do you notice that you love? That you don’t like? That’s dirty? That needs some TLC? While there is plenty of busy work to keep you behind a computer, make sure you don’t spend all your time here. It’s important to move around your store and know what it really feels like for customers to shop it.

To boldly go where no provenance card has gone before


SaturnProvenance cards are a great way to communicate to the visitor the connection between the mission and the merchandise found in a museum store. Yet, getting text that’s concise, accurate and easy-to-read on a small 3X5 or 4X6 card can be problematic. Nina Simon, from the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and noted author, has discovered a new tool that can help alleviate the stress of writing these brief bits of museum knowledge to help extend the experience for your visitors.

The Hemingway App takes its cue from the rough-and-ready writer of its moniker and can help you make your writing bold and clear. In fact, I used the Hemingway App to rework that previous sentence. It helped me get rid of the passive voice and a complicated sentence structure. Cool.

Of course, Nina can explain it so much better than I can…check out her Museum 2.0 blog post, “Hemingway: A Simple Online Tool for Better Short-Form Writing,” that she wrote about in April. Then take the Hemingway App for a spin around the word-galaxy. Isn’t it amazing what technology can do?

What happens in Houston…


MSA members had fun browsing (and shopping) the wares at MFAH in Houston at MSA 2014!Chris Michel is the Director of Retail Services at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La.

On the last day of the 2014 MSA Conference & Expo held in Houston, I was attending an exceptionally engaging training session, when the session leader made the comment: “What happens in Houston, stays in Houston.” Now, we all know that this is a take-off of the Las Vegas slogan to tell its tourists that anything goes, and your secrets are safe. Other cities, including my city of New Orleans, have embraced the philosophy and the slogan.

To hear “what happens in Houston, stays in Houston” at this session was a little surprising to me. Now, for clarification, the reference was in regards to a particularly popular social event the night before. It certainly sounded like a good time was had by all. The attendees enjoyed the reference, and it was a source of laughter, creating a light-hearted atmosphere—an atmosphere of learning! It was repeated several times during this session.

Throughout that morning I thought about this session and this reference. I later tried to reconcile it to the wonderful MSA Membership Meeting that was held later the same day. I say wonderful, because any time our members can get together and discuss the challenges and successes of our organization, it is uplifting and fulfilling. But we do have challenges.

The Membership Meeting touched upon declining membership, of both institutions and our vendor community. We touched upon revenue declines and everyone’s budgetary challenges. We touched upon MSA’s need to expand its educational scope beyond the annual conference and into more regional venues, allowing access to more members and potential members, and the costs involved to achieve this. But my mind kept going back to “what happens in Houston, stays in Houston.”

The fact of the matter is this: for our MSA Conference & Expo, what happened in Houston CANNOT stay in Houston. As an organization, we have serious problems that need to be addressed. And they ARE being addressed. We felt the excitement in the air last year as we had our first conference with a new Executive Director. That excitement was present again this year in Houston, in a much different manner. It was obvious that our hard-working MSA staff and board of directors were moving forward under new, fresh, exciting leadership. The things we “felt” last year were, in many instances, “real” this year. And next year’s conference and expo, in Hartford, promises to be the best ever.

But, if “what happened in Houston, stays in Houston,” how will we get the point across to past members and future members that a new MSA is at hand.  Our slogan has to be, “what happened in Houston, CANNOT stay in Houston.” This was our best conference in a long, long time, and we have got to tell people.

So, I challenge each and every member, whether an institution or a vendor, to contact someone and talk about this year’s conference. If you attended, share your experience. If you did not attend, seek out someone who did and ask about their experience. Start planning now to attend MSA 2015. Reallocate budget dollars if necessary, but find a way to get to Hartford. One suggestion: as you approach your supervisor during your budget meetings to ask for the funds to attend the next conference, invite your boss to attend with you. And if absolutely necessary, offer to have them attend INSTEAD of you. Emphasize the importance of YOUR institution being represented. You have got to sell the idea that attending the MSA Conference & Expo is less about you and more about your institution.

Four and a half years ago, when starting in the museum store industry, I made the decision to reinstate our institution’s lapsed membership. It was the most important decision I have made since joining this industry. I now will work diligently to spread the word: A new MSA is on the horizon and everyone, institutions and vendors alike, is needed to ensure its success. Remember why you joined in the first place, find a way to participate, and seek help from your fellow members if you are facing challenges in justifying your attendance and participation. We need MSA and MSA needs us. So, what happened in Houston cannot stay in Houston. Let’s make a difference!  

See you in Hartford!

5 tips to ensure your showcase merchandise stands out


Showcase imageContributed by Lyn Falk, owner, educational speaker and designer at Retailworks Inc, an award-winning, nationally recognized design firm located in Mequon, Wis.

Showcases have long been a way to protect and promote your valuable merchandise. Versatile showcases can serve as a focal point in your store and add perceived value to the items they house.

Though many showcases come with a perfectly usable white laminate base, some minimal additions can add more interest and make enclosed items pop! Here are five tips to ensure your museum store showcases are working hard for you.

1. Ensure you have proper lighting. Showcases can be lit from above or internally. Though either works, you need to be careful of the glare that can happen if overhead lighting is angled incorrectly. A workable solution: LED strip lights used inside the cases. They can be hidden from view and will last a really long time. If you’re illuminating jewelry and gemstones, the white light of the LEDs will bring out an attention-getting sparkle. There is no doubt they can give new life to an older showcase fixture.

2. Change up the liner. Fabrics, placemats, flooring materials, wall coverings and handmade papers can all be used to change up the look of a showcase. If your merchandise is dark in color, use a light colored liner for visual contrast. Vice versa if your merchandise is light colored. Contrasting your base with your merchandise will make your items stand out. If your merchandise is heavy, use a thicker material, such as 1/8”-thick felt.

3. Add a pop of color.  Use the liner, the merchandise or a focal point prop to add a splash of color. The color will be eye-catching and help draw people over to check out your display.

4. Informative signage. Professional looking miniature signs naming the product and/or artist will entice customers to want to learn more. I’m often asked about price tags and when it’s appropriate to have them visible in a showcase. If you are short staffed, it’s important to make them visible so a customer doesn’t have to wait to find out how much something costs. If staff is plentiful and service is your mission, then it’s okay to leave the price tags off so you can engage with the customer and help sell the item or another item in the case. Another rule of thumb is that if the products are lower-end, then price tags should show. If they are exclusive and one-of-a-kind higher-end products, then keep the price hidden.

5. Keep it simple. Once you’ve followed the above principles of good lighting, signage, contrast and a pop of color, keep the overall theme of a showcase clean and simple. Too much going on and your customer won’t know where to look so may just end up passing it by.

Have you had any luck with any other display techniques in showcases? We’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments section below.


3 qualities every leader needs to succeed on a team


Peter Bregman“I want your help developing my direct reports into stronger leaders,” John*, the new CEO of Fasseni, a $350 million technology company, told me several years ago.

Initially, I approached the request like any consultant might.

First, I asked John why he wanted my help. He told me that Fasseni had stagnated. They had been hovering around the same revenue point for years and their competitors were gaining market share. He saw opportunity and knew that success lay in the hands of his direct reports. That made sense to me.

So John and I defined a list of qualities a great leader should have, like expertise in their field, strategic thinking capability, common sense intelligence, powerful communication skills, problem solving prowess and similar traits.

Then I spent some time interviewing him and his direct reports to better understand their strengths and weaknesses as they related to the list of leadership qualities we had defined.

Identify the goal, assess the current situation, understand the gap, and then close it. Consulting 101. Simple, right?

Only in this case, it wasn’t so simple—because there was no gap.

On the whole, the leaders at Fasseni were smart, capable, communicative, strategic people. A few were even charismatic. They were good leaders. Maybe we could have made incremental improvements, but, I told John, I didn’t believe it would be a good use of his resources. Our work wouldn’t move the needle enough.

We sat in silence for a moment and then I chanced a gut feeling. “There is one more thing I’d love to do. I can’t exactly tell you why, but I’d love to see your direct reports in a meeting together.” He hesitated—so far I hadn’t added much value—but he took a risk.

Here’s what I saw:

One item on the agenda was the slow down in sales. When that conversation started, the head of sales started to defend his organization. Prices are too high, he said, because of the CEO’s focus on margins. If manufacturing could reduce costs, then sales would pick up.

Hold on, the head of manufacturing argued, we can’t reduce costs because of the way the product is engineered. If engineering didn’t overcomplicate things, the product would be cheaper to build.

Wait a second, retorted the head of engineering, we’re only responding to what marketing is telling us we have to create to meet customer demand. If we didn’t have to be so customized for each unique customer situation, we could engineer a more efficient product.

And so the conversation continued, like a game of hot potato, everyone hoping, desperately, that the blame wouldn’t land with him when the song ended.

“We’ve been focused on the wrong problem,” I told John at dinner that night. “You asked me to help you develop your direct reports into strong leaders. But they’re already strong leaders . . . individually. They’re just not strong leaders collectively.”

Each leader ran his organization successfully, aggressively pursuing his organization’s interests. And each one succeeded in meeting—often exceeding—his goals. Each one was committed to—and cared deeply about—his organization’s performance.

But that’s all they cared about—their own organizations. They were impressive as leaders, but destructive as a leadership team.

As I watched John’s team struggle, I was reminded of the popular columnist Dan Savage, who employs a formula of “good, giving and game” on the topic of personal relationships. In some ways, a leadership team is no different than any long-term relationship. If you want to be a good partner—personally or professionally—you need to be three things:

  • Gifted. Simply put, leaders need to be good at what they do. Smart, prepared and well-informed, they need to engage in conversations with curiosity and capability. But to be on a team, they need to go beyond that. They need to be gifted communicators and gifted learners, mastering conflict without being offensive, and adapting to their own changing roles as the organization grows.
  • Game. They need to have the courage to take risks. To be vulnerable and open to challenge and criticism, they need to be willing to consider anything. This requires a tremendous amount of confidence. The kind of confidence that allows them to be questioned by others—even take blame and feel threatened—without becoming defensive.
  • Generous. They need to put the good of the company above their own department, team or agenda. They must be good-hearted, mutually respectful and gracious, resisting the urge to dominate, take the upper hand or shine at the expense of others. Part of being generous with others also means taking an interest in, learning about and offering opinions regarding the other team members’ functions.

Being gifted, game and generous is tremendously hard to do because those qualities can make us feel tremendously vulnerable. That’s why I teach emotional courage during the Leadership Week I run for senior leaders. We need that courage if we’re going to lead with others.

John and I started to develop each member of the team—and shape the dynamics of their collaboration—to bring out these qualities. It took time, hard work and commitment and it didn’t work for everyone. Those who could not bring themselves to be gifted, game and generous did not remain on the team.

Over time, our focus on the leadership team paid off. Since we started working together, Fasseni has grown from approximately $350 million in revenue to about $1 billion. During that time, the stock price went from around $10 per share to around $80 per share.

That kind of growth is inevitably driven by a number of factors. But one factor stood out, a single element that gave them a clear advantage compared to their competitors: A gifted, game and generous leadership team.

*Names and some details changed. Originally published at the Harvard Business Review.

Peter Bregman helps CEOs and their leadership teams break down silos and tackle their most important priorities together. He is the author, most recently, of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, winner of the Gold medal from the Axiom Business Book awards, named the best business book of  the year on NPR, and selected by Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Post as a top 10 business book. He is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change and co-author of five other books. Featured on PBS, ABC and CNN, Peter is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), Psychology Today, and CNN as well as a weekly commentator on Fox Business News. Click Here to be notified when he writes a new article.

You have got to see this place!


Online Reviews

Museums excel at providing experiences that stir the soul, cause reflection on world events, ideas and cultures, and create life-long memories. Understanding the immediacy of experience can shape the impact and the lasting perception of an institution. We know the store is often the final destination for visitors. How does your store shape the perception of your institution? What perceptions do visitors have of your displays, customer service and overall quality of merchandise?

Have you ever Googled yourself? (I know, it sounds so silly, you can stop giggling now—but don’t you love how so many nouns have now become verbs?) It's interesting to find out all the places your name may appear. Have you ever Googled your institution or your museum store? This can be an eye opener and a great way to gauge visitor perceptions. An open, honest and blunt opinion now comes in the form of a permanent record on the Internet. Millions of people can read about others’ perceptions of your prices, store layout and return policies.

Here are just a few examples of actual online reviews for museum stores: 

“Oh, and the gift shop is really, really awesome. A huge mishmash of toys a lot of people will remember from their childhood, and an eclectic mix of various decorations. Hard to describe, but definitely a fun store to walk through.”

“It's just one of those places that if I walk in, I'm tempted to buy all sorts of stuff I really don't need but somehow decide I suddenly can't live without it.”

“This has GOT to be one of the best museum stores in the world!”

“Still doing your Christmas shopping? The museum gift shop has gifts you won't find any place else. You can find something for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list. Unique, classy and definitely not overpriced! I love their western Christmas Santas!”

And talk about perception leading to differing opinions, here are two reviews for the same store:

“I like museums, but I usually don't like the store. Like... I wouldn't just go shopping in a museum store. But, this one is great. I think it's the eclectic options.”

“Don't bring your kids in here. They will be bugging you to buy this or that ‘cool’ item. Cool for a kid, but not for an adult.”

How can you achieve an increased online presence? Ask others to write about you. The comment card has gone digital. It’s acceptable and customary to ask a visitor to write to a standard visitor services email address. Take it one step further—ask them to go to sites such as Yelp to comment on their stellar shopping experience or to post something to your Facebook page.

Okay, I know you want to…go Google yourself…and your store!

MSA 2014: Extend the Experience

Top 5 retail articles from the past quarter you may have missed


In case you missed them, here are some of the most popular articles for nonprofit retailers from the past quarter:

Top 5 image

How to use color psychology to give your business an edge

Whether you’re wondering what color to paint the office or you’re looking to redesign your retail space, the colors you choose can increase your chance of reaching your goals. Color greatly influences human emotion and behavior. If you’re hoping to make your workers more productive or you want to encourage shoppers to spend money, understanding the basics of color psychology can help you design a space that will maximize your potential.

What to expect from consumers in 2014?
Consumer Goods Technology

As 2014 begins, here are four trends set to impact the American consumer market that examine the areas of commercial opportunity for brands and what consumers will be buying this year.

The face of retail is about to change
Biz Community

With consumers searching for shopping experiences and not merely driven by products and pricing, the face of retail is about to change drastically over the next few years. Here are just some of the trends we will start seeing from 2014.

4 ways to manage employees you can't stand

Being a manager doesn’t mean that you have to befriend everyone who works for you. In fact, in many cases, that’s probably a bad idea. Sometimes, we’re charged with managing someone who’s annoying, obnoxious or just grates on every nerve. How can you be a good manager when you dislike even being around one of your employees? It’s not easy, but there are some strategies to address and possibly resolve the situation.

Top museums worth traveling for
The FlipKey Blog

Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of fine art, or you just want to spend a day inside in an air conditioned building while learning something—there is definitely a museum for you. The weird, the wild and the "wow!" can all be found in museums across the United States. This list includes some of the most sophisticated and high end museums in the country too.

What were the hot topics for you this past quarter?

If you're not already getting Culture & Commerce News Brief, make sure to sign up to receive the latest MSA and industry news affecting nonprofit retail managers and buyers.

MSA 2014: Extend the Experience

What is your body language telling your customers?


BodyLanguageRetailers are constantly trying to identify what their customers are thinking by the way they act. If they pick up an item, does that mean they want it? If they browse your museum store really fast, does that mean they don’t like it? If they never make eye contact, does that mean you shouldn’t continue talking to them?

The list of questions that pertain to how customers act in your store is endless. But one list you can control is how you and your employees act in your store. To get started, ask yourself and your team the following:

1. Do you make eye contact with every customer, even if they come in with a group of people? 

2. Do you always—without any exceptions—stop what you are doing to greet your customers? 

3. Do you immediately return to an operational task (that does not involve customer service) after greeting your customers? 

4. Do you appear disturbed/interrupted/frustrated when a customer asks you a question for any reason at all? 

5. Do you respond to all inquiries with ease, eliminating any frustrations or disappointments you may be feeling? 

6. Do you act equally to all your customers, not just your paying ones? 

7. Do you (even if unintentionally) ever roll your eyes at a customer? 

8. Do you rush through any customer service procedures due to your own personal judgment/feelings/predictions? 

9. Do you respond in a friendly manner through your actions? 

10. Do you appear closed off and unapproachable for any reason at all? 

Now if you are like most people, you may not be a good judge on yourself. It often takes an outside observer to really identify just how you act. With this in mind, consider your next store meeting to be focused on how your team interacts with customers—without ever saying a word. Customers respond to your actions (or lack of them) and make judgments on your store team as a result, like it or not. It may be time to do some role playing to help strengthen the “appearance” of your actions.

Body Language Pointers That Help Retail Sales 

Ready to amplify your body language to help amplify your sales? Consider these pointers:

1. Stand Openly. Appearing closed off is a signal that you do not welcome or want to be approached. For retail, this is especially important. Get out from behind your cash wrap or desk, avoid crossing your arms or leaning on something, and stand up straight and tall. A slouch screams lazy and unwelcoming.

2. Use Positive Facial Expressions. A raise of an eyebrow, a little smile, a simple nod of the head—these all communicate that you are listening to someone as they speak to you and offer them a sense of comfort that you are both engaged and care.

3. Avoid Dominant Gestures. Anything too extreme in your body language can scare a customer off. Remember to respect their personal space, even when helping them up close in whatever you may be selling. Additionally, don’t move your mouth (bite on lip, etc.) as a customer is speaking with you, as this sends the signal you are ready for them to hurry up and that you want to move on. It’s distracting for them, as well, which is never ideal. Finally, don’t stare. Eye contact is important, but it’s more natural to have some “breaks” while looking at someone while you talk—or for that matter, while you aren’t talking.

Your store can be beautiful and your product can be outstanding, however if your team’s body language is not welcoming, it won’t matter at all.

Do you practice role-playing or similar customer service training techniques with your retail team?

MSA 2014: Extend the Experience
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