Thumping the slump


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Just about any store or person hits a sales slump sometime in the year. Some slumps last a day, some last a couple days, and some last an excruciating amount of time longer. Although slumps a natural part of the business cycle, it is vital to get out of one as soon as possible.

Here are some tips to work your way out of a slump.

1. Own your slump. Don’t blame the weather, economy, competitors, customers or any thing else for the slump. Own it. Claim it as yours. Take full responsibility. You can’t control or change any of those external events, but if you own your slump your actions can get you out of it.

2. Identify the core issue. Slumps are an effect, not the core problem. Retail slumps are caused by one or more of the following:

a) Lack of traffic
b) Lower conversion rate
c) Lower average ticket
d) Lower units per transaction

To thump the slump, rank the four core issues from most likely cause to least likely. Most stores are quick to say lack of traffic is the issue, but that’s not always the case. This is why I advise my clients to invest in traffic counters.

(I didn’t include product since that’s rarely the issue, but if it is then it’s not a slump. It’s a spiral down.)

3. Identify three individual actions each employee will take today. Even the best athletes in the world hit a slump, and every one of them will say they have to play their way out of it. The basketball player doesn’t stop shooting, and the baseball player doesn’t quit swinging the bat. We need to play through it, too.

At retail, that means taking high-impact ACTIONS each day to thump the slump. I like three actions per person. The actions should be based upon what you’ve identified as the core issue. If traffic is the issue, then short of wearing a sandwich board outside the store one of the actions should be the staff calling x number of customers.

Other actions might be to show every customer a particular product, encourage customers to try something on, demonstrate a new product or technology, get a product into a customer’s hands, ask a particular question, etc.

You might give each person the same list of actions but I believe you’ll thump the slump faster if each individual works from a personalized list. This way you can leverage each individual’s strengths and improve a key challenge.

4. Lead the charge! It’s crucial for leaders step up during slumps. Skip the speeches. Leaders need to be on the floor encouraging the team, giving them feedback, and keeping people focused on success. Leaders also need to be doing what they are asking everyone else to do. Leaders go first.

It’s also a great time to run a one-day contest, role-play with each employee, and/or do anything else you can to lead the team to a great day. It’s not a time to retreat to the office, point fingers, sulk, or demonstrate any other behaviors that keep the slump alive.

I hope you’re not currently in a slump, but the next time you are you’ll be ready to claim it, identify the issues, take action and lead the thumping of the slump.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


  1. I like your practical approach. My first thought was that the analysis may be the hardest part, but that probably isn’t so. It’s always hard to get done to those three key actions per person per day and to keep it up.

    Walter @adamson


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