I’m a professional nerd with real training in growing successful hobby shops. Professionally, I’ve worked with three stores as an employee in a variety of roles and mentorships. Unprofessionally, I’ve worked for two more stores on an unpaid basis to assist with growth. Why did I work for free? I believe hobby stores have an unlocked potential to positively impact the local economy and strengthen the local community…I also really, really like Magic: The Gathering. One store, in particular, was sculpted from the ground up by a surprisingly strong, local MTG community. The immense impact of this community coming together to successfully help this store was both impressive and inspiring. Not every location is blessed with a such a strong community. Rest assured, there are many ways to begin strengthening these bonds. I want all hobby stores to succeed, and with the massive variety of niches that exist in the hobby market, I think there’s a potential for everyone to win a little and increase shop sales. If you work at a hobby shop, please know I genuinely want you to succeed too. To grow your community and improve sales, I’m sharing four ways to instantly increase your hobby shop sales.
1) The “Bathroom Rule”
When you maintain a cleaner store, you see the results in unimaginable ways. I know a manager at a fairly successful hobby store who calls this the “Bathroom Rule”. He told me the “bathroom rule” is the greatest factor he uses to judge all other stores. He rates the effectiveness of any hobby store by checking the cleanliness of their bathroom. If you’ve ever gone into a sketchy 7-11 and felt completely grossed out by an unkempt bathroom, you will know that this leaves a lasting impression. You build trust with long-time customers by having a clean and reliable “home away from home."
If your store is running a public restroom, make it a top priority to keep it fully stocked and tidy throughout the day. By maintaining a spotless store, you quite literally outshine the competition and make a lasting impression on guests. I’ve seen customers leave a dirty store only to use the restroom elsewhere. The restaurant next door knew of their poor bathroom reputation because they saw the dirty store’s clients so frequently. What do you want your bathroom reputation to be? Build trust with your clients through cleanliness.
2) Cleaning Checklist
Some of the top earning stores have the cleanest premises I’ve ever seen. This consistent cleanliness is an attribute they’ve acquired as part of their reputation. I suggest adding a cleaning calendar to your employees work duties if you do not already have one already set in place. Have a daily/weekly/monthly checklist mapping out when to deep clean, touch-up, or “keep an eye on” any situation. In the “daily” section of your cleaning list, I suggest adding a morning, afternoon, and evening section with specified times. For an added bonus, require a signature or initial when crossing off a completed chore on the list to keep everyone accountable. Having a comprehensive checklist makes it easier for your employees to grow awareness on what to keep orderly on a consistent basis.
Add bathroom checks throughout the day per the “bathroom rule”. If everything is clean and stocked, then cross it off and continue on. I suggest adding a basic wipe down of the restroom under “evening” or “closing-duties” for easy maintenance. Now apply this rule to windexing your countertops. Your countertops will shine like no other if you require them to be wiped down at least three times a day. Imagine an increase in shop sales by simply cleaning your display cases more frequently than you thought necessary. Do a deep clean inside your display case at least every other week, dusting and maintenance in between. Players who post selfies and pictures online will visually display your hard work and attractive environment. You will appear pleasantly professional to first-time customers, even if they can’t put their finger on what looks so good.
3) Weekly Event Schedule
Hosting weekly events on a consistent basis is the foundation for any local hobby store. Having a concise weekly event schedule is so important. Running events are a strong financial basis for success in this industry or anyone working to build their relationship with Wizard of the Coast. Customers come in to buy, stay to play, and buy to play. It’s an ongoing cycle that fulfills itself, so make the process of finding your event schedule as effortless as possible. The medium you display these events can vary in success and effectiveness, so I suggest covering all your bases. A whiteboard displaying your event schedule by the store entrance is a staple that works very well. If you’re already doing this, I highly suggest having these two qualities on your board.
Display your event calendar in a 30-day format so clients can visually see where their schedule lines up with yours.
Have a separate section, preferably on top of the calendar, displaying your weekly event schedule from Monday to Sunday in large, bold letters.
Similar to any television channel, this is your weekly schedule. You want your players to remember when to “tune in”. You want your customers to feel annoyed that they remember your weekly schedule more than they remember their own. Do you have a website? Step #1 get a website. Step #2 display your weekly schedule by the top of the website homepage. If you have a facebook, write out your weekly schedule in a Facebook post and pin it to the top. Pamphlets or business cards that highlight your weekly schedule are easy to pass out to new and old customers alike. I still own old business cards from stores that changed their schedule that I initially kept in my wallet for reference.
4) Pizza Fridays
Pizza Fridays are no joke. The majority of hobby stores should be running FNM, or Friday Night Magic, on a weekly basis. If your FNM is normally a $6 event, make it $7 with a guaranteed slice of pizza for everyone that enters. You should be ordering pizza for your players at least once a week. If you’re not running FNM and make your dollar differently, make your store’s top weekly event your pizza night. Giving your customers a slice of pizza is a great way to make lifelong fans. If the added cost of buying a pizza pie feels out of your budget, do not fret. You need at least 8 players for a good event so you’re already starting with $8 extra for pizza. If there is any left over, simply charge $3 for the remaining slices. I hope you sell soda because I guarantee your customers will want a nice soda or water to go with their hot slice of Za. If your store can afford the extra mile, add a complimentary soda to their slice with the cost of entry.
This is a truly effective way to get enthusiastic customers to come back every week and to spread the good word about your store. Players have the added incentive to play FNM at your store over anywhere else. Any players already in your store before FNM will have more reason to stay at your location. D&D players have been known to crash Pizza Fridays, and happily pay for the extra slices of delicious pizza. When you have a large group of people playing at your event, ask around and see what different toppings people may want. Be warned: there will be people nagging that pizza isn’t their choice of food or some other form of complaint. These are the naysayers and they will disagree with anything. Don’t let them ruin pizza night. I guarantee your sales will climb through word of mouth alone
I look forward to providing more tips and tricks to improve local hobby shops. Stay up-to-date with the latest SkullSplitter News and opportunities by following @skullsplitterdice on social media! Was there another “quick-fix” that you didn’t see in this article? Comment below to share your ideas. Make sure to Like & Share this post if you agree with the suggestions I made. Tag a hobby store that needs to add Pizza Friday to their weekly FNM! If you have a burning question and want to reach out, please email CustomerLover@SkullSplitterDice.com or leave a message in the comments.
Krissy Rose Pizzo (Krissy#🌹🍕) is a writer, professional nerd, and social media manager based in St. Petersburg, Fl.
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