Cash Column: Are You Calling Your Customers?

Retail Minded is thrilled to share with you expert insight from Cathy Wagner of RETAILMavens, a nationally recognized retail expert and leader in helping retailers make money. Be sure to check back often, as Retail Minded will share a regular column – Cathy’s Cash Column – by Cathy Wagner that shares her expert advice on how retailers can make more money in their stores.

“Cathy, my business stinks.  What can I do?”

Just to give you a heads up, this is not just editorial chit-chat. This is a real conversation I had with a real retailer.

“I would love to help you.  Send me some information so that I can see what strategy you should take to explode your profits.  In the meantime, can I give you one REVENUE-BUILDING-GUARANTEED tip?”

“Please anything…I will do anything…the store is full of fantastic items but devoid of customers and I have so many bills!”

“OK.  Run a list of your top 100 customers from your point of sale system to see when they were in last and what they bought.  Take each one individually, and compare their last purchases to what you have in the store now.  I am sure that you have items that would complement or supplement what they bought before.  Then call them to tell them about these great items that you chose especially just for them!”

“Oh no…I wouldn’t want to bother them and I don’t have time to do that.  It would take forever to do that.”

“You just said you have no customers – so you have time to fill.  You said you want more sales, right?  My other suggestion is to email them with a personal note and you could send a photo.”

“Oh but I don’t have their email addresses.”

“Well, then call them and tell them that you want to send them a photo of the most fabulous thing that you really think that they will love and all you need is their email!”

“Oh no, I can’t call them.”

“Think about this.  If you could tell a specific customer that you have a specific item that you have specifically chosen for them because you honestly think that they will like it.  If you called to say, ……Hi Ashley, this is Cathy from The Best Shop.  Hey, I don’t want to bother you at all and just had one quick thing to tell you – is that ok?  (Big Huge Note Right Here – You asked for permission to continue!) Well,  I was noticing that when you were in last you bought this thing and I just found this other thing that would be fabulous with it and would make you be able to use the first thing twice as much!…… If you called to tell them just that – I mean what are you afraid of?

“That I will make them mad and they will yell at me and call me names and scream at me that they don’t need what I am selling.”

“Really?  Would you act like that if someone called about something specific like I outlined above?”

“Well, I might not want what they think I might want.”

“That is true – and that is fine!  But would you really be mad?  And scream?  And curse?”

My dear reader, this is where the serious retailers are separated out from the hobbyist retailers.  It becomes clear who is willing to do WHATEVER it takes to achieve their goals versus who is only going to do WHAT IS CONVENIENT.  This is the point that divides those who just want to complain and those who just want to put money into the bank.

Which are you?

Cathy Donovan Wagner, The Retail Maven, is the founder of RETAILMavens and works with specialty, independent store owners to help them explode their profit, get better results, have more fun and get better sleep. She offers private consulting as well as group programs such as Cathy is also a Retail Minded Advisor and contributes regularly to You can contact Cathy directly at 


  • Kirt Manecke
    April 25, 2013

    Cathy and Nicole, You hit it right on.You are so correct when you state, “this is where the serious retailers are separated out from the hobbyist retailers.” I experience these mindsets when I talk to retailers, and as I was a “serious retailer” when I owned a specialty retail store, it’s frustrating to listen to the excuses given by the “hobbyist retailers”. Thank you for a great post!

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