Art Freedman’s ‘Nuggets’: Part I

Art Freedman’s ‘Nuggets’: Part I

Legendary US hardware man Art Freedman recently visited Australia to present several workshops aimed at helping independent store owners improve their business. In this two part article Art shares some of his favourite ‘nuggets’ – ideas that will help retailers improve their bottom line, make their operation more efficient and “ultimately help them make more money.”

Making money is not illegal, immoral, or fattening

As a retail professional you should be looking every day for nuggets that will improve your business. Let’s rattle off a few here.

1) Over 80 percent of all batteries sell on impulse so take a hard look at your front check stands. You are missing out on a lot of business if your electrical department is the only place where batteries are merchandised.

2) The size of the price on a sign above an end cap item will affect a customer’s perception of value so try putting up a sign (just a price and benefit will be enough) that can be read from across the main aisle – it will work! Take this seriously and never leave an item on the end cap without a sign. Set your end caps with one or two items at the most but with a huge and visible price. Your end cap prices should be competitive and don’t use prominent end caps for merchandise categories. After all, price and product sell merchandise.

3) “Don’t train em, don’t blame em…” Never forget the importance of staff training and always stay focused when taking new people on board. Here is how many of us learn: “What we hear we forget. What we see we remember. What we do, we can understand. What we teach others, we can master.”

4) Always have a bucket of Teflon tape at the registers and train your cashiers to ask the following question each time a customer brings a threaded item (I know this is not fasteners) through the registers. “Would you like to buy a roll of Teflon tape? It’s only $1.49 and it will help stop this from leaking.” Expect half your customers to take up the offer and yes, I’m aware that every home contains at least five rolls of Teflon tape. That’s why we’re shooting for ten.

5) It’s important to monitor the sales of every item on every end cap and every item in your promo aisle. This is prime real estate in your store so you should be selling many products off this high traffic area. Remember the ‘four Rs’ when evaluating this area: Right item, Right time of the year, Right quantity and Right price. If something isn’t selling in your highest foot traffic area then this is most likely due to a missing ‘R’ somewhere. Who in your business is accountable for impulse sales? Who is responsible for clip strips, wing panels, the check stand area, promo area, and store front? These are your most important areas for increasing the average transaction.

6) What part of customer service should be scripted in your business? Seriously, try the following and see how it works.

  • Answering the telephone: “Good Morning this is American River Ace Hardware, Art here, how may I direct your call?”
  • Greeting a customer: never ask a closed ended question like “May I help you?” The response is inevitably a no. Always ask an open ended question that will start with the word “How” or “What.” The very best way to greet a customer is with the question “What might I help you find today?”
  • To a customer leaving without buying anything: “What did we not have for you today?” When you do this many times you will find out that you either had what they were looking for or had something else that would work or could do a special order.
  • Thanking a customer for their purchase: “Thank you for shopping with us, we appreciate your business, here is my card, please call me when you get home if you have any questions.”
  • Greeting a customer at the registers: “Good morning, afternoon or evening, did you find every thing you came in for?”
  • When finishing up with a customer on a project sale: “What else do we need to get for you today?”Part II will conclude in our next issue. Visit for more information.