How We Broke Sales Records on Black Friday
In 2015, we had a traditionally minded retail manager who suggested we host a Black Friday promotion. Following the pattern of other boutique stores (a category in which most music stores fall into), we had been closed the entire Thanksgiving weekend. We didn’t want to look like a big-box store, commercializing the holidays and infringing on family time! (Of course, we were participating in those same sales ourselves as consumers.)
So we posted fliers, distributed them along our school route and waited to see what would happen. To our surprise, we had above-average store traffic, and we actually sold a couple of instruments—a pleasant surprise.
Fast-forward to 2016. We decided to host a second Black Friday promotion, but this time, we focused on the two most unique aspects of our original sale, offering a discount on everything in-store and also letting this discount be combined with rental credit. (This mostly applied to orchestra step-up sales for us.)
We abstained from all the frilly stuff from the first year, such as giveaways for the first 20 customers, free shirts and so forth. These only added to the chaos of the morning, and really didn’t do much for our event.
In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, we printed a report showing accumulated rental credit per customer and compared it to a list of customers with 3/4 and 4/4 string rentals. We then called this list of qualified customers, letting them know how much credit they had accumulated, and how much their monthly payment would be if they purchased an instrument from us on Black Friday. For many customers, it was a no-brainer. They came in and made the purchase. They even thanked us for selling them the instrument.
In the end, we set a store record by selling 11 instruments in one day—well, 13 if you count the recorder and ukulele. We also set a record in daily sales numbers overall.
Here are a few takeaways from the promotion:
1. We don’t allow any sale during the year to be as good as the Black Friday pricing. This creates scarcity and excitement.
2. We stress the importance of coming in on Black Friday. We don’t offer the sale over the weekend or allow any rain checks. (However, if someone came in on Black Friday and started the instrument trial process, or had to show the instrument to a teacher, we would still honor the pricing. That’s just good customer service.)
3. You can open at your normal time, such as 10 a.m. No need to do the daybreak doorbusters.
4. It may take a year or two to catch on, so don’t be discouraged if people aren’t pitching tents in your parking lot during year one.
So here’s to the next Black Friday!
Rick Thacker is the owner of Plum Grove Music in Lowell, Indiana.