Slow day at the store?


March, 2017—

Here are 8 ways to put you in the fast lane with customers

This can be a tough time for home furnishings retailers. Folks are still paying off their holiday bills and spring can sometimes bring fickle weather. Bad weather in most of the country (even in Southern California where I live, it’s been pouring rain for months) tends to keep shoppers indoors. On one of those days when you’ve been open two hours without a single shopper in sight, how can you turn things around? Try these ideas.

  1. Make the most of the shoppers who do come in. Don’t scare them away by being over-eager (like sharks to blood, shoppers can smell desperation). Instead, engage in a polite, friendly way. Now’s the time to offer those shopper a little extra service, such as suggesting discounted accessories to accompany the furniture they’re looking at, or discussing the pros and cons of different items.
  2. Stick out a sign. Put a sandwich-board sign advertising a special offer outside the door to attract passing customers inside. If the weather is so bad that’s not feasible, keep a sale banner on hand to put in your window instead.
  3. Hold a flash sale. A limited-time, surprise sale can get customers in the door. Offer a deal—20 percent off everything in the store—or whatever makes sense for you. Limit it to a short period—for instance, 1:00 to 4:00 PM. (If bad weather is what’s keeping people away, you can look at the weather forecast and base your sale around any time the storm appears likely to lift or lessen.) Send emails and text messages or post on social media about your sale.
  4. Appeal to their boredom. Put posts on social media to attract customers who have maxed out on Netflix and couch surfing for the day. “Can’t binge one more show? Come see us for some rainy-day deals.” (Just make sure you don’t make light of severe bad weather that is causing destruction or loss of life—this can hurt your company’s brand.)
  5. Make it mobile. If your business already uses mobile marketing apps that reach out to people based on their location, a slow day is a great time to put them to work. Customers who are already out and about are more likely to be tempted to drop by your store. Send them a code good for a discount or other special offer.
  6. Offer refreshments. On a cold, rainy spring day, free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and other treats can entice shoppers to stop by and warm up. Keep a full supply in your stockroom so you can serve refreshments at a moment’s notice. Promote them on social media and via your other marketing methods.
  7. Entertain children. If you’ve ever been trapped at home in a rainstorm or snowstorm with children, you know how desperate parents can be to get out of the house. Entice parents into your store by providing entertainment for the little ones. Set up a small area in the store with a play table, toys and books. Enlist an employee to read stories to the kids or play games with them. Meanwhile, offer the parents discounts and the chance to get a break from their kids while they shop.
  8. Reward them. Does your furniture store already have a loyalty rewards program? Great. Let customers know you’re offering double or triple rewards points today. The extra incentive might be all they need to get out the door and into your store.

Make the Most of Downtime

While you’re waiting for these efforts to get people in the door, there are other things you can do to make a slow day more than a wasted one.

  • Focus on marketing. Tackle the marketing tasks you never have time to get around to. Get ahead on your social media marketing: Schedule some posts for the next week or month. Review the results of your most recent marketing efforts so you can see what to do more of in the future. Plan your future email marketing messages or email newsletters.
  • Catch up on administrative tasks. Update your bookkeeping, place orders for new inventory, sort and file paperwork — get caught up on all those things that get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
  • Beautify the store. Use the downtime to take care of chores like cleaning, testing and sweeping the store. Cast a critical eye on your merchandising and see how it can be improved. Play around with your window displays and signage. You may come up with some great ideas to make your store more appealing to passers-by.

About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Weekly, a consulting company specializing in small businesses and entrepreneurship. Sign up for free small business stories and tips at