It’s both easy and normal for a store, at some point, to start feeling stale – the same guitars on the same hangers in the same spot every morning you walk through the door. It’s understandable as the days are busy and there are many things that need to be done to keep the place operating. But retailers can’t afford for the aesthetics and, generally speaking, the vibe of a store to be overlooked. According to Shopify, shoppers make a subconscious judgement of a retail environment within 90 seconds of entering and, depending on the research, 62 to 90 per cent of people base their judgement on colour alone. The good news is that revitalizing your store doesn’t need to be overly complicated or expensive. But it does require imagination. (more…)
By Michael Raine
It can be exhausting trying to keep up with the proliferation of social media platforms. There seems to be a new one every week, to the point that a common reaction is, “Do I really need another social media account? I just don’t have the time and energy for that.” Sure, some platforms can be ignored more than others, but Instagram is not one. It is growing at a mind-blowing pace and businesses large and small need to get onboard. (more…)
(And Made Everyone Happier In The Process)
By Michael Raine
Music lessons are an integral part of the business at The Music Room in Palatine, IL, as they are at many MI stores across North America. With 22 teachers on staff and between 400 and 500 students at any given time, scheduling, unsurprisingly, can get complicated. But then there’s this staggering number: between August 2013 and July 2014, The Music Room had 2,500 lesson cancellations. That is 48 cancellations every week, not accounting for holidays.
So what did store owner Carol Cook do about it? She banned cancellations and rescheduling while creating a system that worked better for everyone.
First, let’s take a look at what the policy was before the big change was made in January of this year. Previously, students were able to make up missed lessons within other students’ cancellations. (more…)
Creating Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships For Retailers & Students
By Michael Raine
What has your experience been with interns in your store? If you answered “non-existent,” you’re not alone. Having high school, college, or university students intern at MI stores seems to be a rare occurrence in this country. From my experience speaking with Canadian MI retailers, and even searching for a Canadian retailer to speak with for this article, I’m surprised by how resistant many are to the idea, or have simply never considered it. South of the border, however, it appears to be the opposite situation.
“I would say we have more of an issue recruiting students who want to go into the music products industry,” says Kim Wangler, M.M, M.B.A, director of Music Industry Studies at the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Every one of Wangler’s students must find a full-semester internship in the music industry, and many of them go to MI retailers, from large chains like Guitar Center and Sam Ash to independent local stores all over the U.S. “I have many situations where I have retailers and manufacturers calling me and saying, ‘Hey, we need people.’ Of course, I go out to the NAMM Show and everybody is looking for bright, young individuals looking to go into this field.”
What are your store hours and how were they determined? You may have given some serious thought to what hours make the most sense for your specific location and customer base. Then again, a “they are what they’ve always been” mentality may have crept in, as it often does. Do you open at 9 a.m. just to drink coffee and surf the web for two hours until traffic picks up, and then find yourself having to push people out at the end of the day because it’s closing time? There are a number of factors to consider when determining the most profitable and sensible hours for your location. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that store hours can be very specific to a given store and location. What makes sense for a music store in one area may not make sense for a music store in the neighbouring community. Nonetheless, here are some things to consider.
What Is Mandatory?
Before you can get into what are, quite frankly, the more interesting considerations, you first must ensure you’re meeting the regulatory and lease obligations for your location. “So when we think of regulatory, you’re thinking of both the province that you’re in and the municipality within which you operate. You have different operating rules, like Sunday openings on the east coast, for example,” begins Michael LeBlanc, senior VP of marketing and digital retail at the Retail Council of Canada, who has over 20 years’ experience working with both large and small retail companies and also serves at the publisher of the organization’s publication, Canadian Retailer. (more…)
At the recent NAMM Show in Anaheim, thousands of MI retailers took the opportunity to further educate themselves through the wide array of NAMM U sessions. As every top-end professional in any industry knows, you can never stop learning because the world never stops changing.
But while the designated experts on stage at NAMM U are a fantastic source of knowledge and advice, sometimes the best lessons are learned through experience. It can be practical lessons about customer service, broad philosophical ideas about running a business, or simply learning how to maximize your strengths.
With that in mind, Canadian Music Trade spoke with some experienced MI store owners and managers in Canada and asked them one simple question: What bit of advice would have made your work life easier when starting in the MI industry?
Here are some of their responses… (more…)