Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tip #126: Honor Fathers Leading Up to Father’s Day

Father’s Day is just a few weeks away (June 15) so this week’s tip is to utilize social media to help your customers honor their fathers and hopefully they’ll come in to buy your sweets in the process.

Below find a few ideas for some of the most popular social media tools. Take one and use it, or take a combination approach for the social media avenues your customers use most.

Facebook – For the week leading up to the holiday, have followers post their favorite sayings or lessons learned from their dad. Make a daily post and have followers comment in the post with their sayings or lessons. Then, choose your favorite at the end of the week to win a Father’s Day gift basket. You could take a humorous or sentimental approach with this one!
Twitter – Use a custom hashtag to encourage followers to post about their dad. Similar to the Facebook suggestion, you can take a humorous or sentimental approach here. Be sure to promote the hashtag so you can view all participant submissions.
Pinterest –  Have a Dad’s Sweet Dream Gifts contest that requires entrants to have a Pinterest board full of their dad’s favorite items from your website or online store. Require the board to include your company name (awareness builder!) and then have entrants submit the URL to their board by emailing you or posting the link on your Facebook page. (Check out this Pinterest contest for an idea of how it to communicate the idea to customers.)
Instagram – Photo contest! Have customers submit photos of themselves with their dads holding their favorite chocolates or candies from your store. Just as with Twitter, encourage a custom hashtag so that you can easily view the submissions.

For each of these items, you could say that if they come to your store before Father’s Day and show their comment, Tweet, etc. on their phone then they receive a free piece of fudge, truffle, etc. As you know, once you get them in your store, they’re likely to purchase your irresistible treats!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tip #125: Celebrate National Candy Month

It is almost June, also known as National Candy Month! This week’s tip is to have some fun with a month-long celebration of all things candy.

Ideas for fun candy month celebrations include:
  • Specials and coupons, of course!
  • Interactive in-store contests. For example, coloring contests for kids is a great way to get the entire family in your store. Display the submissions in your store throughout the month, letting other customers vote for their favorites. The winning prize could be a fun candy-filled gift basket.
  • Limited edition candy. What about getting your staff involved and asking them to create a new product inspired by their own favorite confections that’s only available for the month of June?
  • Host a Candy Making Camp where kids can sign up for a day of candy making at your store for a fee.
  • Have a new candy contest, encouraging customers to contribute ideas for a new chocolate or candy to be made by your company. They can come up with creative names, or you could even name the winning idea after the winning contributor.
The key here is to have fun celebrating because candy really does make life more sweet – and fun!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tip #124: Control the Temperature of Your Packaging Room

You’ve made a delicious product covered in chocolate and now it is time to package it. Have you considered how the temperature of the packaging room or area will affect your product?

This week’s tip is to control the temperature of your packaging room or area in order to protect the integrity of your products. Oftentimes the focus of room temperature is on the cooking or kitchen area but the temperature and relative humidity of the packaging area is important as well. For example, conditions with high humidity will lead to moisture condensation which will eventually result in sugar bloom on the product’s surface. Additionally, conditions that are too warm could melt your products.

Confectionery experts recommend that the packaging area be maintained at 65° to 70°F with a relative humidity of maximum 65 percent. To help with control, install a thermometer that measures both temperature and relative humidity and assign an employee to check the measurements on a regular schedule.

Temperature control is one of many factors and variables that should be considered as you prepare product for customer distribution. The decisions you make about these items can help to prolong the beauty and shelf life of your confections.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tip #123: Train Employees in Customer Service

Think about the last business you entered, retail specifically. Were you greeted upon entrance? If you received a warm welcome, did it leave an impression on you? Likely so as a warm welcome is no longer the norm when it comes to customer service. That’s why today’s tip is to train your employees in customer service.

One of the best examples of excellent customer service is the Apple Store. A Forbes article outlined the five steps of service that Apple Store employees are trained to follow for each customer interaction:

Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs (ask closed and open-ended questions).
Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

How are your employees doing at each of these steps? Oftentimes we assume that employees understand the basics of customer service, but it’s up to you as the business owner/manager to train them.

Remember, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated (salesforce.com). So start preparing your employee training today!

P.S. The Opening General Session at the RCI Annual Convention & Industry Expo this June will provide more insight from industry expert Phil Bruno on building great customer experiences. Register online by May 16 and save $100 on full registration!