You need to understand the importance of tracking the number of opportunities you have to serve Ms. Jones. This number is indicative of the health of so many of the things successful retailers are doing each day. It is also a number that can be gathered and acted upon without turning the entire organization inside out, regardless of your level of computer sophistication. I will also attempt to help you make the best use of the information once it is collected.

Who, what, how?

WHO will count the traffic? Because counting your traffic is important to the success of the entire sales team, getting them involved in the process is comparatively easy. Throughout the day, the sales staff in every furniture store in America is dealing with down time. Sales managers are constantly trying to find things for their staff to do between customers. They are more likely to support this new initiative than, say, dusting their area of the store.

A second option in many stores is the receptionist. While answering the phones and welcoming guests to the store, this position is perfect for the accurate gathering of traffic count.

WHAT will be counted? You may believe you only want to count the total number of Ms. Joneses who come to your store to buy. What about those customers entering our store each day looking for a water fountain, a gift certificate or drapery hardware? These “non-customers” are indeed shopping and truly are an opportunity to show off your exciting store and wonderful customer service skills. They must be counted.

Counting traffic in a store reminds me of playing golf with a certain friend who needed to win each round. Mind you, no money was on the line. At the end of each round, regardless of how well I played, he always beat me by a stroke or two. We would sit and talk about each hole, and when the question would arise about the ball going out of bounds on three, the answer was always the same: he didn’t count that stroke. “No problem,” I would reply, “But, who’s cheating who?”

HOW will traffic be counted? One little, two little, three little Indians. It really is this simple. Get a piece of copy paper, or a notebook or legal pad. Make three columns on the sheet. Write the time in the first column. Write a brief description of the customer in the second column. Write the name of the salesperson who helped them in the third column. (This process can also be done in Microsoft Excel or other computer software if you choose.) At the end of each day the sheet should be torn off or printed and placed in your mailbox for review.

It really is that simple. This information is your very own personal gold mine. The deeper you dig, the more you will glean from the mine.

First, you begin to track the effectiveness of your marketing dollar in terms of the traffic it generates. Customers often hold their marketing company accountable for traffic count. It is a simple graph of improvement… or not.

The second number that quickly presents itself is the closing percentage of your sales associates. By comparing the list of daily traffic to the number of sales made by each employee, you now have a basis for managing the effectiveness of each sales person against the store’s average.

Using these two numbers daily can dramatically improve the operation of your store. We find those who improve their operation are likely the same stores improving their profitability. The sales payroll in most stores is a large percentage, and advertising is also a big chunk after inventory, rent, and payroll. Make certain you are getting your fair share of closed sales for every Ms. Jones who was driven into your store by your advertising, and that every penny spent on marketing is bringing in enough of them.