How to Use Your Counter Space to Increase Sales Tomorrow

By Kent Covington

Nowhere on your shopping list was there mention of a little tin box of Altoids, a 20oz. Dr. Pepper, or a pack of AA batteries . . . so why did they wind up in your cart at the last second? Because someone did some great marketing!  

Impulse buying is a wonderful source of revenue for businesses of every shape, size and color. Are you getting your fair share?

If one of your customers stops by between service calls on a muggy afternoon, would he be able to resist a cold bottle of Gatorade poking out of a steel tub of ice? And if he’s hungry, maybe he’ll grab a Snickers bar as you ring up the rest of his purchase. You make a couple extra bucks and you save your customer a stop at the 7-Eleven.

Of course, impulse purchases aren’t limited to junk food. If you ever shop at Auto Zone, you’ll notice an assortment of sugar-fueled goodies near the register, but you’ll also see hand cleaner, tire pressure gauges, and key-chain flashlights. These are common items that people who work on their own vehicle will likely need from time to time.

What are the most common items that your customers need on a regular basis? Start by answering this question:

You can never have too much (or too many) _____. 

Determine what word(s) belong in that blank, and then think of a way you can get that product on or near your front counter. A carpet installer can never have too much tack-strip. An artist can never have too many brushes. Regardless of the industry, there’s always something – often, more than one “something” -  you can never really have TOO much of. 

You might find that something you are already selling would sell better if you place it at the counter.  Why?  Studies show that the longer your customer holds an item in his hand that he did not initially intend to buy, the more likely he is to think “aah, I don’t really need this right now”, and put it back on the shelf. The more time he has to think about it, the more likely he is to talk himself out of it… even if he really does need to buy it! But your customer will rarely change his mind about a last-second purchase.

The most important time to offer something to your customer is when his wallet is in his hand! Chances are, he’ll be thankful you took the time to think about what he needs and made it quickly and easily available.  Best of all, he won’t wind up buying those items somewhere else!  

Last-second purchase items are not limited to what you can fit on the counter. McDonalds has sold tons of extra potatoes by asking “Would you like fries with that?” Radio Shack has made millions simply by asking “Do you need batteries for this?”   Is there a question you can ask that will increase your sales?   That simple question could be the difference between pretty good numbers and a great year!

Now, I realize I probably haven’t told you anything you don’t already know. This is pretty basic, straight forward stuff. But the simple things are often the easiest to overlook. So don’t forget to help your customer think of something else he might need or want before he walks out the door. You’ll be doing him a service, and you’ll have a little more cash in the coffer at the end of the day!