• Marketing pool toys
  • Flat-fee pricing vs. time-based
  • Seasonal workers and insurance
  • General and industry-specific safety resources

I’ve got three stores and one of them moves a lot of pool toys. The others don’t do nearly as well, though we do pretty much the same marketing for all three. How can I increase my pool-toy sales in the other two stores?

Cyndy Geier:

Doing the “same marketing” for all stores may be exactly what is hurting the sales. If you presume that the average retail store customer is approximately within 5-7 miles of a store, and let’s say that the three stores are in three different parts of a county, or possibly in three different counties, you will find that each area — even as small as each 7-mile radius — has its own consumer demographics. That means the consumers visiting each store may be significantly different from each other in family member statistics, gender of purchaser, household income, ethnicity, pool needs, etc.

To understand this is to understand that to successfully advertise “pool toys” to the consumers visiting each store may take a slightly different way to present the offer; create the promotion so it speaks directly to their particular interests and needs.

Simply put, you must understand your customer and his/her buying habits.

In the course of learning more about your customers, you may also find that the customers of a particular store may not be interested in toys at all, but are very interested in maintenance equipment. Should you keep trying to promote pool toys? Of course not! Promote what the people want to buy. Once in the store, the customer may be influenced to purchase other offers.

Buzz Ghiz/Bill Burt:

Perhaps the demographics of the stores are different. An older area might not be as conducive to toy sales, but may be more conducive to another product line that better suits those demographics. Is there different competition near these other stores?

For service work, is flat-fee pricing better than charging by time-based costs?

Paul Hackett:

Depends on whether you’re the service company or the contractor employing the service contractor. For the service company, a time-based contract is better, whereas the flat-fee is better for the contractor.

Buzz Ghiz/Bill Burt:

In today’s environment we think a flat fee (with a trip charge fee) might be better because consumers don’t want an open-ended price — they want to know what the expense is going to be up-front.

How should companies classify seasonal workers for insurance reasons?

Eric J. Ruppaner:

For insurance reasons, you should classify seasonal workers by the job they will be performing. If an employee has job responsibilities that fall into more than one classification, their payroll should be included in the more hazardous job description.

Buzz Ghiz/Bill Burt:

Some insurance companies will set the criteria and may require a person to be employed for 90 days before they are eligible. I don’t think you should offer benefits to seasonal workers.

Where can I find a good video or multimedia source that talks about general store safety as well as industry-specific (pool chemical) safety to use as OSHA training for my store employees?

Cyndy Geier:

Although I’m sure there are more than a few options, my suggestion is to align with an industry organization like APSP, whose focus is to provide their members with relevant material that assists company owners with practical tips and procedures that will help them lead their staff or run their companies more efficiently.

If they currently do not have “videos,” it would be something as a member you could suggest to the organization. Most organizations that work hard to help their industry (like APSP) are always moving toward new ways to effectively communicate with their membership.