Ever watch the Simpsons? Know the comic store guy? Think that is just a parody? I can tell you that I have met dozens of people at comic stores and comic shows that fit that image. And I am not just talking about the weight problem, but the poor dress, the attitude, the whole thing. Do a tour of your local comic stores and hit a few conventions and you will see some of the worst service in any industry. I am not saying all stores are like this, I have been to my share of stores that are clean, organized and professional. But I have been to way more that are anything but. So here are some tips to make your store more professional. Remember if you want to be taken serious, you need to look the part.
1. Keep the Store Clean - Nothing says amateur like an inch thick of dust on the counters. And take a look behind the counter from a customer's perspective and see what it looks like. Is there papers everywhere? Are there fingerprints all over the glass cases? Any food wrappers laying around? Is your computer showing something professional or is it the latest game? Your workstation should be kept clean as if you were working for someone else.
2. Dress for Success - You hear this saying all the time and probably figure it is just for people in suits. Guess again. If you show up in dirty clothes or ripped clothes or dressed like a bum, people will treat you accordingly. Think about it, these are people that are trusting you with their credit card number (if they pay that way) and if you look unprofessional, do you think they will feel good about spending money with you? It is best if you can provide uniforms (at least matching shirts) as it makes it easy to identify the employees and makes you look more professional. If you cannot swing it, set some dress codes for your business and make sure that everyone follows them.
3. Be Punctual - Nothing is worse than coming to a closed store. Especially if you are there during business hours and they are either late, leaving early or out to lunch. If you post certain hours, then do everything you can to be there. That means leaving early to avoid traffic or other problems. Customers don't want to wait and most of the time they won't. They will just go to the next store.
4. Turn the Radio Down - I cannot tell you how many times I went into a comic store and especially game stores and heard loud music playing. And many times, inappropriate music. Make sure to think about your customers when you are choosing music. You may love heavy metal or gangster rap, but your customers may not, especially the parents. Don't drive away business with loud and inappropriate music.
5. Appropriate Posters - Promotional posters are like wallpaper to comic stores. Go into just about any comic store and there are dozens of comic posters on the wall. There is nothing wrong with this, but think about the posters before you put them up. If the poster has scantily clad women or psychotic looking men with guns, you may not want to put them on the wall. This is especially true if you want your store to be family friendly and want kids to shop there. Look for posters that are appealing and appropriate. Oh and take down those faded and torn posters.
6. Private Conversations in a Public Place - You are not only judged on your appearance, but also when you speak. Keep this in mind when you are working at your store. While you will get close with some of the customers and may speak about stuff other than comics, try to keep it professional. Leave any talk of sex out of the conversation. No talking about your wild weekend or which one is better in the sack, Betty or Veronica. Leave that stuff for the bar or after hours. While the customer you are talking to may not care, others may. Or you may find that your employee does not approve of it. This also applies to talk of politics and religion. You may only be giving your view on something, but you may end up offending someone who does not share that view.
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