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Never say can't for retail success

Georgia Merton gmerton@pharmacytoday.co.nzFriday 01 September 2017, 9:16AM
Never say can't for retail successEmma with floor manager Tana Faapito who, she says, has
been a real cheerleader for her

Good retail comes down to old-fashioned customer service, according to Emma Jarman, runner-up for this year's Retail Superstar award at the Pharmacy Awards. 

When assured her trade secrets for retail stardom aren't going to be leaked, Ms Jarmen laughs and says she doesn't have any. Her sales at the Lancôme Counter at Life Pharmacy Sylvia Park over the past year, however, speak of hard work behind the scenes with well-thought-out strategies and goals. 

For Ms Jarman, it was a combination of planning and delivery, but she says it's her presence on the shop floor that made the most ­difference. 

In her entry for the awards, entitled "I never say I CAN'T", Ms Jarman impressed the judges with her drive for success, and the results that came of it. 

In August 2015 the pharmacy had to relocate to the other side of the mall and this resulted in a drop in sales, including at the Lancôme Counter. 

Ms Jarman, who had been with the pharmacy for four years, took on the challenge as the Lancôme sole counter manager and increased counter sales by 106 per cent in the first 10 months. Lancôme fragrance sales rose by 146 per cent, and she won a handful of awards from Lancôme, all in less than the time frame she had set. 

Ms Jarman says building relationships with her customers, and gaining their trust, was what got her there.  

"It's that loyalty you build. That's not just long term, it's anyone and everyone who comes in, I can build something with them with just general conversation. Just a laugh, and that's enough, I'm in!" she says. 

Talking to her, you can see why she is popular with the customers. You instantly feel comfortable in her presence, and she is bubbly but very real. 

But it is what Ms Jarman does with this established relationship that takes her to the next level. She says she chats to her customers for 10 minutes, forms a bond with them and then jots down their details and something about them. 

"When I first got onto this project, I had this big list of people I had bonded with," she says. "As soon as something comes up I contact them and they're, like, 'Oh, that lovely girl!', and they come in." 

Another key part of her success was applying this same tactic to the people in the existing customer database, those who hadn't been into the store in a while.  

"Just one phone call; I ask them why they haven't come back and they say, 'Oh, they just lost touch with me' or 'I'd come in and no one would be on the counter' - it's basic things that you kind of forget about," says Ms Jarman, and she would then ask them to come in for something, saying that customers love being acknowledged and feeling special. To get her customers in, Ms Jarman organises beauty events, gives free makeovers and constantly promotes in-store specials. 

Emmas top tips

Though bubbly and friendly, Ms Jarman confesses to having a competitive nature, which she says emerged only after having Brax, her son, who is now three.  

"I'm quite competitive, I like being recognised, I like being at the top every day. Even if it's just seeing Lancôme at the top of the counters. And my team know that." 

Her team, both at the Lancôme counter and across the pharmacy, are an essential part of her success, and she puts considerable effort into keeping them happy and motivated. "At staff meetings, I'll always take up a basket with the products, stand up and explain everything in a way they will understand. Instead of getting into detail, I'll just explain the basics. They know, this is the best mascara. If someone from dispensary asks for a cream to take away spots, they'll send them right to me because they'll remember that one time I told them about it. It's just staying on good terms with everyone, and keeping it simple," Ms Jarman says. 

"I don't work with some staff members sometimes, so I'll just switch days and come in so I can work with them, and we're all back on," she says.  

Ms Jarman also says that incentivising staff to sell more, which she did of her own accord, is essential to keeping them motivated. She sends her 2IC and 3IC at the Lancôme counter emails saying how well they're doing and encouraging them. Now a member of the senior staff team, she says she has learnt a lot about managing people, and has grown a lot from it.  

"You've just got to keep them interested and make them feel like they're not being left behind. Get them excited, keep them happy. I love seeing them all excited and happy about selling, it gets me going!" 

Her relationship with her 2IC, who is Chinese, played a big role in one of her main sales strategies: connecting with her Asian ­customers.  

"We've been able to learn a lot from each other; it's a big change from European culture. Rather than building a relationship, Asian customers tend to like their service fast - 'where's the eye cream?'- and you just point to it." 

Looking back at her success, Ms Jarman says she has now become an advocate for goal-setting. 

"Before I planned all of this, I had a one-on-one with my boss and he told me I needed to think of my goals for one year, for four years, for five years. He said you've got to know your partner's goals, your family's goals. So I went home and talked to my partner about it, and we were able to go from there. 

One of Ms Jarman's goals was to keep a good family life balance, while still achieving success at work. She says this has been a success, and that she's been very lucky to have all the family pitch in. And it comes full circle: "I think it's because everything's happy at home that I can just come to work and get stuck in," she says. 

"The main thing, really, is greeting every customer," Ms Jarman says. "Everyone who comes into the pharmacy could be a customer, even if they don't look it. I get a lot who might look like they're going to steal, but then spend over $1000. 

"Don't judge people, and even if you do, stay with them. You build a relationship and then they'll come back and buy, or they don't buy every time but they come in regularly and see you. I have a lady who comes in every Tuesday morning and buys something every few months." 

"How do I not sound cheesy?" Ms Jarman asks, and says she always tries to stay positive. "Love what you're doing, and the rest will follow. And nothing is a failure if you've learnt a lesson." 

But if the going gets rough, she says, don't discount the power of a morning coffee.

 
 
 
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