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#1
Old 05-18-2006, 11:20 PM
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Help me increase business at my video store!!

The situation: I have recently become the manager of a medium-sized video rental store in a medium-sized town. No, it's not a Blockbuster, but a smaller franchise operation. The store has been open for almost a year and a half; for the first year we were unprofitable, then we had two great months, then business began to fall again (as the weather got better -- warm weather=fewer rentals), and last month we fell $300 short of our goal. We're located in a shopping complex near a grocery store, a couple restaurants, the DMV, and a liquor store. We have a decent selection of movies; we can't afford to get every new movie that comes in, because they just don't rent, so most of our new releases consist of big Hollywood movies with a handful of smaller ones thrown in. But we do have a pretty good catalogue section, a medium-to-poor games section, and a large adult room in the back. We are one of three video rentals in town -- us, a Blockbusters, and a small independant place. There used to be a fourth one, but it just went out of business.

I would really like to increase business. This is my first managerial experience, and I'd like to "make good," both for the store's sake, and for my own sake -- it's a personal challenge, and it's also a matter of pride. Unfortunately, my power is limited. We have essentially zero advertising budget -- no radio spots, no TV spots, and the leaflets and coupons they have tried in the past have had limited success, so I'm not sure if they'd be willing to go that route again. Any new specials I come up with must be approved by the store owner -- who's an openminded guy, but not a pushover. I have no control over our prices, which are, IIRC, better than Blockbuster's, though we don't have Blockbuster's vaunted "No Late Fees" policy -- we've already lost some customers who said they'd rather go to Blockbuster to avoid late fees.

So my challente to all you teeming millions is to come up with creative and CHEAP ways that I can increase business for our little store. What do you like and dislike about video stores? Can you think of any special promotions we can try? How can we get our name out there, get people into the store, and, more importantly, get them to keep coming back?

Here are a couple things I've worked on; tell me what you think of these:

CROSS-PROMOTION: Incredibly, our store has never done any cross-promotion with any of the restaurants in our complex. I fixed that in the first couple days since I took the job, and we're now about to start a deal with five of our neighbors. With our neighboring pizza shop, sub shop, and Chinese restaurant, we're going to have a deal where if customers bring in a receipt showing that they bought more than $10 worth of food at any of those stores, we'll give them a rent-1-get-1-free special at our stores. (I wanted to do a different special, but this is the one my boss approved.) With the coffee shop next door we will allow them to show our movies on their big-screen-TV in exchange for advertising in their store. And -- my coup de grace -- we're going to hang a sign in the DMV advertising that if people pass their driver's test they can bring in their new license and we'll give them a rent-1-get-1-free special.

REMEMBERING CUSTOMER'S NAMES: I'm thinking of asking my employees to try some tricks to remember our customers names, so that they can greet people by name when they come in the store. How would you feel about this -- would you find it pleasant, or disconcerting?

CONTESTS: Before Easter we had a jar of candy on our counter, and had a contest so that the person who guessed the correct number in the jar would win some free rentals.

RECOMMENDATION CARDS: I'm thinking of typing up some cards to attach to the new release shelves by certain movies. The cards would have a mini-recommendation by one of my employees. I figure people rent movies because of good word-of-mouth, and this is one way to get the word out there and visible. One of the first things I did was to create an employee recommendation section from our catalogue movies with similar cards, and several people have commented positively on that, so I figure it might work with our new releases as well.


So that's what I've got so far. Let me know what you think of these ideas, and if you have any ideas of your own, let me know -- I'm really open to anything at the moment.
#2
Old 05-18-2006, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
With the coffee shop next door we will allow them to show our movies on their big-screen-TV in exchange for advertising in their store. And -- my coup de grace -- we're going to hang a sign in the DMV advertising that if people pass their driver's test they can bring in their new license and we'll give them a rent-1-get-1-free special.
1) Who will pay the licensing fees for the public performances at the coffeeshop? Remember, the FBI investigates criminal copyright infringement.

2) You can hang a sign at your local DMV office? How does that work? Are you buying advertising space, or what?

3) You might want to look up the meaning of coup de grace. I suspect you meant something more like paramount or zenith.
#3
Old 05-18-2006, 11:36 PM
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I used to own a small video store. All the things you've listed sound solid. In my experience giving the best customer service possible will win the hearts of your customers -- by all means learn their names, be their buddy. And those reviews by your staff will be great, people love to come in and ask for advice on what to watch, never be too busy to do that service.

Now for the warnings: I was in business for seven years. People go through stages in their lives of watching a lot of movies and then, you'll never see them again. Not because you did something wrong, or drove them away, just thye got a new job, a new hobby, a new asddition to the family. So keeping new customers coming in all the time is essesntial.

And the one I had the hardest time swallowing, but it is absolutely true -- pricing gimmicks and deals. It doesn't have to really be a deal, it just has to sound like one. And I hate that the world works this way, but people would rather rent a movie for $3.50 a pop and get every 11th one free than rent them at another store for $3.00 a pop without the freebie if all other things are equal. Come up with some promotions where the customer is 'getting something for free' and figure out how to make it work for the store, then run that by the owner.

Good luck.

-rainy
#4
Old 05-18-2006, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danalan
1) Who will pay the licensing fees for the public performances at the coffeeshop? Remember, the FBI investigates criminal copyright infringement.

2) You can hang a sign at your local DMV office? How does that work? Are you buying advertising space, or what?

3) You might want to look up the meaning of coup de grace. I suspect you meant something more like paramount or zenith.
1) Good question; hadn't thought of that. Not sure.

2) I went over, not expecting to get anything but figured it couldn't hurt to ask. The regional manager was there, and he said he had no problem if we hung a sign in there. Surprised the heck out of me, but hey, I'll take it...

3) Nitpick, but thanks.
#5
Old 05-18-2006, 11:42 PM
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The recommendations are key. I discover so many great movies, TV shows, books, bands, and so on by the old "If you liked A, you'll also enjoy B, C, and D" pitch. I know a lot about movies to begin with, but your average casual renters won't, and they'll probably appreciate the help.
#6
Old 05-18-2006, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainy
And the one I had the hardest time swallowing, but it is absolutely true -- pricing gimmicks and deals. It doesn't have to really be a deal, it just has to sound like one. And I hate that the world works this way, but people would rather rent a movie for $3.50 a pop and get every 11th one free than rent them at another store for $3.00 a pop without the freebie if all other things are equal. Come up with some promotions where the customer is 'getting something for free' and figure out how to make it work for the store, then run that by the owner.
Very good advice which I appreciate. A question on the pricing thing: with our deals with the neighboring restaurants, the owner originally recommended that if customers spent more than ten bucks, then if they rented TWO we'd give them one free. I didn't think that sounded like enough of a deal, so I suggested a system where if customers spent more than $10 at the restaurant, we'd give them 10% off; if they spent $20, we'd give them 20% off, and up to $30 / 30% off. I figured that was more flexible, and sounded like a better deal to the customers (not to mention helping our neighbors out by encouraging people to buy more food). The owner nixed this idea, saying it was too confusing, so he countered with the rent-1-get-1-free deal (which is, of course 50%....not the best deal IMHO). I fear it's already a done deal (this is what the owner wants and he's already printing up the signs), but out of curiosity, which sounds best to you?
#7
Old 05-19-2006, 12:18 AM
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Obviously the rent one get one free deal is the best of those offered for the customer. From a business standpoint, not knowing the finer points of your business of course, it's probably a good thing. The less money you bring in is probably small potatoes if you accept that those renters aren't existing customers. If the goal is to get new business it's a great deal, if the goal is to generate more repeat business, maybe less so.

Here's an idea I'll float. You should take advantage of the grocery store's flow of traffic. That's your biggest asset in my opinion. Your biggest issue is probably new memberships, being that you're a smallish chain. Everyone has a Blockbuster card, not so with your store. Considering those two factors, here's my suggestion. Do a membership drive out front of the grocery store. Say, every day for a week, with the grocers permission of course, a couple members of your staff (ideally a cute girl) set up a table in front of the store and sign up people for memberships. With the new membership coupon they get a buy 1 get 1 free (or some other enticing promotion) for their first rental.

The logic is that a certain percentage of the shoppers at the grocery are Blockbuster members. One of the key reasons they go there over you is probably the simple fact that they don't have a membership and aren't inclined to sign up at 7PM on a Friday when they are in the mood for a movie.

The challenge would be getting a promotion that's good enough to make them take 5 minutes out on the way into the store to sign up. The second challenge is making the sign-up process as fast and painless as possible. Take the minimum amount of needed information and fill in the blanks when they rent.

Tracking the avenue of acquisitions should also be a priority for all promotions. Your cross-promotion deals and any membership drives will have a certain return rate, finding the ones which work best will be important to decide if they are worth pursuing in the future. Also it'll help you prove your value to your boss if you can show that there was an incremental increase in business directly from your suggestions.

Incidentally, I'd hate if my video store did the whole "remember my name" gimmick. It annoys me and in some cases worries me. Do a search here on the SDMB and you'll find a handful of threads discussing this topic. The fact that you have a large Adult section should make your really question if that's a good idea. If that makes up a fair portion of your business and a dad comes in with his family ad you greet them all by name, the following weekend when he's craving a porno he might think twice about going where the clerk knows him and his family by name. I strongly recommend you avoid this. Good customer service is a no-brainer, but keep it polite but unintrusive.
#8
Old 05-19-2006, 12:34 AM
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How about monthly or weekly promos where people get to pick out a kiddie video for free? I think that would bring in some traffic, at little or no cost to you folks.
#9
Old 05-19-2006, 12:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
REMEMBERING CUSTOMER'S NAMES: I'm thinking of asking my employees to try some tricks to remember our customers names, so that they can greet people by name when they come in the store. How would you feel about this -- would you find it pleasant, or disconcerting?
I found it annoying and obviously phony.
#10
Old 05-19-2006, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omniscient
Incidentally, I'd hate if my video store did the whole "remember my name" gimmick. It annoys me and in some cases worries me. Do a search here on the SDMB and you'll find a handful of threads discussing this topic. The fact that you have a large Adult section should make your really question if that's a good idea. If that makes up a fair portion of your business and a dad comes in with his family ad you greet them all by name, the following weekend when he's craving a porno he might think twice about going where the clerk knows him and his family by name. I strongly recommend you avoid this. Good customer service is a no-brainer, but keep it polite but unintrusive.

I totally agree. I hate it when someone who I haven't formally introduced myself to uses my name. This would especially bug me in a movie store--If you know my name, what else are you keeping track of?

This is what I would do. You aren't just competing w/blockbuster, there is also Netflix. What got me away from netflix was blockbusters "all you can rent for $X/month" thing. I think theirs is $27/mo., and you can have 2 movies out at a time. I loved this. (We don't have a blockbuster here, or I would still do it.) Customers don't have to worry about late fees, and since you do have an adult section, this gives you an advantage over blockbuster, and I think you could charge more than blockbuster because of this--or do something where anything from your regular selection only is, say, $25/mo, with adult stuff it's $35/mo. Whatever.

Late fees are a major deterent for many people. I think if you can reduce them or offer some sort of "late fee insurance" where people can pay an extra dollar up front which gives them some more time to get the movie back, that's good. Another thing blockbuster does is offer a $1 credit if a movie is returned within 24 hours, applied to your next rental. This not only encourages people to get the movie back fast, but also encourages another rental.

I think the membership drive thing is a good idea, also.

One last thing, do people know you have an adult section? I am not sure how you would tastefully advertise it w/o driving away your family customers, but that is something blockbuster doesn't have, and I would use it.
#11
Old 05-19-2006, 01:50 AM
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Focus on customer service, especially convenience.

In your location, can you provide a drive-thru return box, where customers can drop off returned videos right from their car? People will appreciate that. (But it might cost you a bit of repeat business. Now, they have to come inside to return videos, and many will rent another one since they're there.)

Consider a reservation service, where customers can phone or email your store requesting certain videos. Your employees pull those, put them in a bag witht he customers name, add a pre-filled charge slip, and hold it at the front desk for the customer to pick up. You'd have to decide how to deal with customers who don't show up to pick up their reserved videos, customers who keep your employees on the phone for a long time asking about videos, etc. But if you can make this work, many customers will really like it. If you can provide a drive-thru window where customers don't even have to get out of their car to do this, even better.
#12
Old 05-19-2006, 02:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omniscient
Here's an idea I'll float. You should take advantage of the grocery store's flow of traffic. That's your biggest asset in my opinion. Your biggest issue is probably new memberships, being that you're a smallish chain. Everyone has a Blockbuster card, not so with your store. Considering those two factors, here's my suggestion. Do a membership drive out front of the grocery store. Say, every day for a week, with the grocers permission of course, a couple members of your staff (ideally a cute girl) set up a table in front of the store and sign up people for memberships. With the new membership coupon they get a buy 1 get 1 free (or some other enticing promotion) for their first rental.
Excellent idea! I'd thought of ways to use just about every other business on our strip, but was stumped with the grocery store, even though it is by far the biggest draw in the complex. But a membership drive there could easily work -- and we already have a deal where people can get a free rental when they sign up, so we already have our gimmick. We only have one girl on our staff, but she might be able to entice a few new members. The sign up process is fairly quick; we just need to get some information from a driver's license and credit card.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omniscient
Incidentally, I'd hate if my video store did the whole "remember my name" gimmick. It annoys me and in some cases worries me. Do a search here on the SDMB and you'll find a handful of threads discussing this topic. The fact that you have a large Adult section should make your really question if that's a good idea. If that makes up a fair portion of your business and a dad comes in with his family ad you greet them all by name, the following weekend when he's craving a porno he might think twice about going where the clerk knows him and his family by name. I strongly recommend you avoid this. Good customer service is a no-brainer, but keep it polite but unintrusive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
I totally agree. I hate it when someone who I haven't formally introduced myself to uses my name. This would especially bug me in a movie store--If you know my name, what else are you keeping track of?
Interesting. Any other opinions on this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JThunder
How about monthly or weekly promos where people get to pick out a kiddie video for free? I think that would bring in some traffic, at little or no cost to you folks.
The owner's averse to giving out any more free rentals (we already have a rent-10-get-1-free special, as well as the free one when people join), but maybe we can do something special with the kids movies -- kids being out of school for the summer and all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
This is what I would do. You aren't just competing w/blockbuster, there is also Netflix. What got me away from netflix was blockbusters "all you can rent for $X/month" thing. I think theirs is $27/mo., and you can have 2 movies out at a time. I loved this. (We don't have a blockbuster here, or I would still do it.) Customers don't have to worry about late fees, and since you do have an adult section, this gives you an advantage over blockbuster, and I think you could charge more than blockbuster because of this--or do something where anything from your regular selection only is, say, $25/mo, with adult stuff it's $35/mo. Whatever.
This is something I want to do long term, but I think I will have to prove myself to the boss (and make the store profitable) before he's willing to try it. But I like the idea about being able to charge more for the adult stuff, because you're right -- that would be a huge draw, and people would definitely pay for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
Late fees are a major deterent for many people. I think if you can reduce them or offer some sort of "late fee insurance" where people can pay an extra dollar up front which gives them some more time to get the movie back, that's good. Another thing blockbuster does is offer a $1 credit if a movie is returned within 24 hours, applied to your next rental. This not only encourages people to get the movie back fast, but also encourages another rental.
People HATE late fees. I have managerial discretion to erase late fees, and I have been told that I should never lose a customer because of late fees, but I also have to fax my daily financials to my boss, and I get flak if they see I erased too many. When I think about it though, I do have a way I can give people the movie's for more days without charging them more, and it wouldn't show up on my reports. Maybe that's something I can use...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
One last thing, do people know you have an adult section? I am not sure how you would tastefully advertise it w/o driving away your family customers, but that is something blockbuster doesn't have, and I would use it.
Interesting point. I NEVER mention the adult room to people (at heart I'm a 20th century man ), and I think a lot of people aren't aware of it because it's kind of tucked away around the corner. When I first started at the store (I worked there part time for months before becoming manager) a couple came in and noisily cancelled their membership in protest of our back room. That only happened once, but I think it scared me off from mentioning it to people who don't already know about it. Maybe I should start mentioning it to people. So there's another question for everyone: if a clerk informed you about an adult section, would you be embarassed, offended, intrigued? What if you were with your spouse -- would that change your reaction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
In your location, can you provide a drive-thru return box, where customers can drop off returned videos right from their car? People will appreciate that. (But it might cost you a bit of repeat business. Now, they have to come inside to return videos, and many will rent another one since they're there.)

Consider a reservation service, where customers can phone or email your store requesting certain videos. Your employees pull those, put them in a bag witht he customers name, add a pre-filled charge slip, and hold it at the front desk for the customer to pick up. You'd have to decide how to deal with customers who don't show up to pick up their reserved videos, customers who keep your employees on the phone for a long time asking about videos, etc. But if you can make this work, many customers will really like it. If you can provide a drive-thru window where customers don't even have to get out of their car to do this, even better.
We do have an outside drop box. A reservation system might be a good long term goal; (I thought of a similar thing -- they're building a new hospital up the street from us, and I thought maybe we could deliver videos to overnight patients, though the technicalities of doing so seem a bit much for us at the moment). We would not be able to do a drive-thru window because of the way the store is built.
#13
Old 05-19-2006, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
Interesting. Any other opinions on this?
Here's an old thread on the topic. There's been others in the past but the search function is being stubborn about the word "name" for some reason. The general consensus is that most people would prefer you not do this, though it's not universal.

Quote:
Interesting point. I NEVER mention the adult room to people (at heart I'm a 20th century man ), and I think a lot of people aren't aware of it because it's kind of tucked away around the corner. When I first started at the store (I worked there part time for months before becoming manager) a couple came in and noisily cancelled their membership in protest of our back room. That only happened once, but I think it scared me off from mentioning it to people who don't already know about it. Maybe I should start mentioning it to people. So there's another question for everyone: if a clerk informed you about an adult section, would you be embarassed, offended, intrigued? What if you were with your spouse -- would that change your reaction?
Same rule of thumb as the name thing. Be unintrusive above all else. With the name thing and with the adult section referrals there's a certain percentage of people who will like it and an opposite percentage who will hate it. Either choice is going to lead to lost customers and neither is apt to have a dramatic effect on your bottom line in the positive. For that reason your best bet is to just leave well enough alone.

You certainty should not hide the fact that you have an adult section. Be smart and make sure that the video game and family film section isn't near the back room. Have it clearly marked so that those interested know it's there, but don't approach people about it. It can only cause you trouble.

If, on fliers and coupons, you choose to note that you have adult video you should choose your wording carefully. Don't make it more prominent than anything else for fear of scaring off soccer moms. One example of a wording is this:

"Here at Rodgers01's Fabulous Videos we have a terrific selection of new releases, comedies, thrillers, children's and family titles, independent films and mature titles."

The "mature' wording comes across as a little less obviously elicit to me and by pairing it with the other options you avoid being known as the "dirty video store". The point is, don't hide form the fact you have the titles, treat them like any other movie, but be careful that you don't place that above all else in peoples minds.
#14
Old 05-19-2006, 05:58 AM
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I like the idea of a reservation service. To do it through a webpage as well as phone would be ideal, but the webpage would require some serious money and work to hook it to your stock-keeping system.

How about having an internet terminal permanently connected to the IMDB, so people can look up info on movies on the spot? You could scrounge an old compiter and monitor and get your friendly neighbourhood geek to load it witn Linux and configure it to display a browser only (and thus avoid paying a lot of money to buy a new computer, another copy of windows, etc.). It may be that you have to pay for a subscription to the IMDB for this commercial use, I'm not sure.

Definitely thumbs-down on the greet-by-name thing, especially if you have an 'adult' section. If knowing someone's name doesn't arise naturally from their relationship with you, it's not friendly, it's stalker-creepy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
I NEVER mention the adult room to people (at heart I'm a 20th century man ), and I think a lot of people aren't aware of it because it's kind of tucked away around the corner. When I first started at the store (I worked there part time for months before becoming manager) a couple came in and noisily cancelled their membership in protest of our back room. That only happened once, but I think it scared me off from mentioning it to people who don't already know about it. Maybe I should start mentioning it to people.
No, I actually think that not mentioning it is better. You might want to have a discreet sign up at the room's entrance, but depending on your locality, saying "We have a two-for-one special on erotica this week" to every customer as they check their movies out might not be a good idea. Are you required by local bylaw to have the adult room separate, covered, no window displays, etc?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
So there's another question for everyone: if a clerk informed you about an adult section, would you be embarassed, offended, intrigued? What if you were with your spouse -- would that change your reaction?
I would be intrigued, but then I'm a neo-pagan who thinks that sex should not be treated like a shameful thing. And I hope any potential spouse of mine would be equally unoffended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omniscient
Same rule of thumb as the name thing. Be unintrusive above all else. With the name thing and with the adult section referrals there's a certain percentage of people who will like it and an opposite percentage who will hate it. Either choice is going to lead to lost customers and neither is apt to have a dramatic effect on your bottom line in the positive. For that reason your best bet is to just leave well enough alone.

You certainty should not hide the fact that you have an adult section. Be smart and make sure that the video game and family film section isn't near the back room. Have it clearly marked so that those interested know it's there, but don't approach people about it. It can only cause you trouble.
So my idea about putting a flashing neon sign over the door to that part of the store would not work?

Minor naming nitpick: I wish the sellers of sexually-explicit material would call their section 'erotic' rather than 'adult' or 'mature'... it's more precise. Mature material can be violent or subversive, for example, not just erotic.

Treat the erotica section as maturely and non-sensationally as possible. Keep it well-lit, clean and tidy, at least as clean as the rest of the store. Some people are going to dislike it anyway, so it's best to avoid looking sleazy. There are several erotic video stores on Yonge Street in Toronto; if I go to one, I will go to the one that does not look furtive and scuzzy.

My impression is that people are picky about their erotica, and one person's interest is definitely not the liking of another. If you can connect to an IMDB-type internet search service here as well, great!

If you have staff members who are knowledgeable about erotica, and don't mind helping the customers with that knowledge, even better. ("What movies have performer X? Does this movie have content Y"?) Staff mini-reviews would be nice, same as in the rest of the store, but they could be under pseudonyms or anonymous.

But, depending on where you are, you may want to make that kind of help duty strictly optional for the staff.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omniscient
If, on fliers and coupons, you choose to note that you have adult video you should choose your wording carefully. Don't make it more prominent than anything else for fear of scaring off soccer moms. One example of a wording is this:

"Here at Rodgers01's Fabulous Videos we have a terrific selection of new releases, comedies, thrillers, children's and family titles, independent films and mature titles."

The "mature' wording comes across as a little less obviously elicit to me and by pairing it with the other options you avoid being known as the "dirty video store". The point is, don't hide form the fact you have the titles, treat them like any other movie, but be careful that you don't place that above all else in peoples minds.
Yes. Here I'd go with 'mature' rather than 'erotic', because that covers both erotica and restricted movies, violence, psychological horror, things with recreational drugs in them, etc... all the things that may be Bad for Kids if not handled properly.
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Rigardu, kaj vi ekvidos.
Look, and you will begin to see.
#15
Old 05-19-2006, 06:09 AM
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I skimmed through the tread Omniscient linked to, and out of 88 replies, 2 people were neutral on the "call customers by name" practice, 1 person said they liked it, and everyone else HATED it. Kind of funny, really.

I like sunspace's IMDB idea, and I agree that erotic is more specific than mature, but I think mature is less likely to inspire hissy-fits among the more conservitive patrons.
#16
Old 05-19-2006, 07:33 AM
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Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm thinking "first name basis" and "Adult section" don't play well together. At least, I know I'd want at least the illusion of anonyminity when I come in to rent "One Legged Butt Buddies" for the third weekend in a row.

As for other ways to get customers in - I agree with the late fees thing, and also I think more emphasis on customer service. The only reason I've ever dumped a video store is because of bad customer service. Every freakin' weekend night there'd be 5 teenage employees out front smoking and socializing while the one poor nerd checked out a line that took 20 minutes to get through. Ugh, no. I'm sorry. Even if it's only a 10 minute wait, I got better things to do on a weekend night.

I like the idea of the IMDB kiosk.
#17
Old 05-19-2006, 07:52 AM
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My Three Flicks Package Deals. Three Robert DeNiro movies for the price of Two. Three WWII movies for the price of two. Three kids movies for the price of two. Any logical combination the customer can come up with. The challenge alone will draw people in!

Make sure the employees are knowledgeable about the movies you carry. Make sure they watch as many as possible. I ask the Blockbuster folks what they thought of various movies and I value their opinions.
#18
Old 05-19-2006, 08:01 AM
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As a former video store manager myself, two things I think you need to add to your list:

Account Management

You mentioned that you charge late fees. Do you have someone specifically trained to handle outstanding accounts and late returns? If not you may want to work towards having a single dedicated person handling all outstanding accounts or customers with late films who is firm but pleasant, and has the power to give credits and make exceptions. Outstanding accounts and late movies can quickly become a problem if not properly addressed and can drag down even a thriving business.

Inventory Management

I'm not sure how much control you have over inventory stock, but if you have a hand in that (even if you don't) go over expected ROI (return on investment) data with your immediate supervisor or manager. Learn how you are paying for new releases, older titles, games, etc. and whether you have any price-sharing deals with studios set up. Knowing how much you are spending on your inventory can give you a better idea of how to merchandise and what to promote.

Also, if you don't perform regular full-store inventories you may want to start. You'd be surprised how many items go missing from one month to another. In addition, you should be checking the shelf daily for items that are overdue to make sure you're not missing them at some point in the check-in process.

Cross-promotion is well and good, but in my 5 years working at video stores I never saw a program that seemed to really catch on for any length of time. Cross-promotions work better for gaining brief spurts of new rental activity, but the downside is that those people may come in and open an account, rent a movie, and never bring it back, or rack up late fees they will never pay.
#19
Old 05-19-2006, 08:12 AM
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How about an email sign up sheet to advise people of the latest movies that are coming out and then do some kind of coupon in the email. Rent one new movie/ get an older title for free.

Build up your impulse purchase sales in candy, pop and popcorn. Offer weekly deals on previously viewed DVD's or maybe $ off a used DVD purchase along with a new liscense/good report card/full moon. Whatever. Stick it in your customer's minds to always want to buy used DVD's from your store.

If you rent games, offer to buy used games off of kids, or they get two free rentals in exchange for a game they are tired of. ( something like that.)


I also believe in recommending your staff get to know the patrons. When I worked at a video store, I knew everyone who walked in the door. I mean everyone. If not by name, but by their movie selections. Get to know them and recommending movies. Encourage the staff to read up on movies and play movie games* in the store. Everyone loves movie trivia. Every.one.




The reason I got my job at the video store was I had been home sick and sent my completely clueless mother in to pick out something for me while I recouped and my future boss (who already had a pretty good idea of my tastes) picked out some really good films ( one being Buckaroo Bonzai.) and I beleive I was hired shortly after I survived my minor illness.




*One of our favorite movie games was to put on a G-PG13 movie in the store, fast forward to the actual movie and the other player would have to guess what the movie was by dialog and music without looking at the screen.

Other movie game: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. Oscar Trivia: First Color picture to win best picture. First best picture. Most awards. .......


I always like it when a video store has an Oscar Winner Section from January to March.



Good luck!
#20
Old 05-19-2006, 08:47 AM
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Getting back to the food thing, is there a pizza place within a couple blocks? How about a pizza and a movie deal? Bring in a receipt and get a discount.

DD
#21
Old 05-19-2006, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
Very good advice which I appreciate. A question on the pricing thing: with our deals with the neighboring restaurants, the owner originally recommended that if customers spent more than ten bucks, then if they rented TWO we'd give them one free. I didn't think that sounded like enough of a deal, so I suggested a system where if customers spent more than $10 at the restaurant, we'd give them 10% off; if they spent $20, we'd give them 20% off, and up to $30 / 30% off. I figured that was more flexible, and sounded like a better deal to the customers (not to mention helping our neighbors out by encouraging people to buy more food). The owner nixed this idea, saying it was too confusing, so he countered with the rent-1-get-1-free deal (which is, of course 50%....not the best deal IMHO). I fear it's already a done deal (this is what the owner wants and he's already printing up the signs), but out of curiosity, which sounds best to you?
Well you have to look at this simply as money spent on advertising since you didn't mention that there was anysort of reciprocal agreement with them (like bring in a recipt for 3 rentals recieve a free dessert) and just regard it like you would spending $100 for an ad in the paper.

I'm stunned at the overwhelming negative response calling the customer by name is getting -- what are you people renting. I'll stand firm though on my opinion. You (the clerk) are looking at a screen that displays their name every time you do a transaction for them, so it is easly to learn. And you'll constantly be looking people up in the system by their name since only about 3% of them will ever bring the membership card you made for them back in. It is only natural that you'll learn their names. What's the alternative, learning their customer number? Seems very impersonal to me, especially since your gravy customers will be in 3-4 times a week. Of course I'm in the south so there may be some regional 'friendliness' factors that influence this. We still like being called honey by waitresses and being waved at in traffic with more than one finger.

Definitely track your inventory. Everybody hates late fees, but video stores are such a slim profit margin business anyway, you have to use them. Nobody knows (or cares) that new release tapes cost you $50-70 a copy, and only have legs for about a month. You've got to have those things turn in order to break even, which is really all you can expect from your new release section anyway. Your catalog titles are your gravy, and you can be a lot more lax with those. What worked well for me was when I went to a long rental period for catalog titles - 5 days. This encouraged the real movie buffs who wanted to watch every movie of a series to be able to do so with running afoul of late fees. Also reduced late fees for those catalog titles is a good idea, since they don't have to turn in such a short time. This works and doesn't cost anything. Gamers also enjoy having long rentals on video games.

I wouldn't advertise the adult section (outside the store, or in print). My experience was that the people who want it will ask. A subtle (very subtle) way to make it obvious to people who are in the store should be enough. X titles are good money because you can charge premium for them, but kids titles are good money too, they share some of the same rental characteristics; they are cheap to buy up front, and will rent and re-rent for a very long time, and they always sell quickly as used copies. So you don't want to slit your throat on one for the other. People renting adult titles aren't going to be offended that you also carry Disney, but the converse may not be true.

Another thing you can do is play mind games with your customers to get things to rent. A drop box is a great idea and a great convience which also helps people avoid late fees, but a drive thru pick-up window eliminates any impulse buys. Put the new releases at the back of the store where customers have to walk through the catalog titles to get to them. If they see a favorite oldie on the shelf, they may pick it up to rent. Shelf poistion makes a huge difference. The top shelf items (literally those sitting on the top/eye level shelf) rent 3 or 4 times as much as ones displayed lower down. Unless your system locks things into a location, rotate catalog titles that have been living on the lower shelves up to the top shelf and watch them rent. People also like to rent what other people have rented. Have staff return items to the shelf while there are customers in the store, they'll boomerang back to the register.

Lastly, get some subscriptions to the trade magazines where there are ideas like this in every issue. Lots of them are free, and contain a wealth of info.

-rainy
#22
Old 05-19-2006, 09:08 AM
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Oh yeah, and abandon the idea of delivering movies to that hospital or anywhere else. Devote that energy to something else and save youself a lot of headaches.
#23
Old 05-19-2006, 09:39 AM
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Former Blockbuster manager here.

Blockbuster tries every promotion under the sun, as you know. The effectiveness of each one varies a lot by location. If you are in a family friendly area, I highly recommend a "free library kids rental with each new release" or something like that. Moms eat that shit up! I practically had rioting when they stopped that promotion.

Free is the word. Make it something you can afford, and get creative, but get that word out and make it big. Free gumball with any rental. Free coloring book-style sheet (copies are cheap) that the kiddies can color at home, bring back and you'll hang on your wall. Free gift wrap at the holidays.

I was the one who started the "gift bucket" thing at Blockbuster. I loved to play with the shrink wrap, and there were these buckets of microwave popcorn sitting there on the candy shelf not moving.....Stuff a bucket with two boxes of overpriced candy and a gift certificate. Voila. Giftbucket. We still charged regular price for everything, but the presentation made it an impulse gift buy. I started doing that at one store during the summer, and by Christmas, all the stores in our district were doing it. We'd even let the customer pick out the candies and giftcard - some would add pop, or stuffed animals or movies that they picked out. Took me less than 3 minutes to arrange and shrink wrap the stuff, and our store had the best two quarters ever.

As for the names: if your employees remember them and use them naturally, it's fine. But don't, for the love of Og, don't make them parrot back every name at checkout or read it off a membership card. Oogy. Way oogy. I got written up at every store visit for not making my employees follow the name rule. I didn't care.

Get your employees talking, even about movies they haven't seen. Get them to ask the customers about movies. Every return, if you can get an employee to take it by hand, make eye contact and say, "how'd you like it?", you'll increase the perception of customer service. People love to talk about themselves. Get them talking, and they wont' realize that you haven't watched a damn movie in three months because you're always at work. When shelving tapes, ask the customer standing nearby, "Have you seen {insert title]? No? Me neither. I was thinking of getting it this weekend. We can't keep it on the shelf!" 9 times out of 10, the customer will immediately rent this "hot title", even if they've never heard of it. "Mighty Ducks Three, huh? Think my kid will like it?" is just as useful a conversation starter whether it comes out of the employee's mouth or the customers. You want knowledgable employees, but first and foremost, you want friendly employees. Randall knew his shit about Star Wars, but he was still a lousy employee. (Clerks, of course).
#24
Old 05-19-2006, 09:49 AM
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1) Hire all young wome, exclusively.

2)Have them wear bikinis at work.

If there is a college nearby, you win, guaranteed.
__________________
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~~~~Hunter S. Thompson
#25
Old 05-19-2006, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
Randall knew his shit about Star Wars, but he was still a lousy employee. (Clerks, of course).
Love that movie!

"This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers!"

/ end Randall Graves channeling /
#26
Old 05-19-2006, 10:49 AM
Domo Arigato Mister Moderato
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As a marketer I utterly agree that your goal here should be to get new customers in the door. You're trying to get the introduced to your shop and potential form a buying-habit.

Here's two things I thought of:

1. Schools. The local public schools around here will partner with anyone to sell anything. Talk to the principal at some elementary schools about doing a 'movie night' thing. Your promotion is that any rentals on day X identified from that school (receipts in a bucket or whatever) generate 10% to the school. Works here for local restaurants and such. Maybe the local PTO could assist. They pass out fliers you return some dough.

2. The local Comic/Video shop here in town offers a 'quick return' discount. They rent movies by whatver length of time. If you return it within two days you get 25% your next rental.

Obviously that second is designed to promote customer loyalty following the initial visit but don't knock it. Get them to buy three times and they'll be around for a while.
#27
Old 05-19-2006, 11:01 AM
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Hire movie experts. Encourage them to talk to the customers about films.

Do advertise the adult section, but subtley.

However, in big bold letters make sure everyone knows you have 'THE ORIGINAL UNCUT VERSIONS- NOT CENSORED BY A MAJOR VIDEO RENTAL CHAIN". One of the things that pisses dudes off about BlockBusters is that they censor their videos.

Make sure you stock all the NC17 Titles they don't, and advertise same.

BB also has anotehr annoying habit- if you fail to return a DVD they just charge it to you at a rather decent price. Well, that's not so bad for the store and no so bad for the dude "buying" the video, but it's unfair for the guy who wants to rent it afterwards, as BB rarely restocks. So, go in there, and get all the titles they are out of. Cool "culty" thinsg like "Dead Like me", "Scrubs", etc.
#28
Old 05-19-2006, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
1. Schools. The local public schools around here will partner with anyone to sell anything. Talk to the principal at some elementary schools about doing a 'movie night' thing. Your promotion is that any rentals on day X identified from that school (receipts in a bucket or whatever) generate 10% to the school. Works here for local restaurants and such. Maybe the local PTO could assist. They pass out fliers you return some dough.
I think this is a really good idea. People will do anything to get money to schools. My mom had about a hundred campbel's soup wrappers in a drawer at one point because she was asked to save them for one of my cousins' schools. I, personally, couldn't give a shit, but lots of people do. Also counters the sleazy porn shop image.
#29
Old 05-19-2006, 01:04 PM
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We have two local independent video stores nearby -- one (Store A) about half-mile closer than the other (Store B). I travel the extra distance to go to Store B for a couple of key reasons:

1: Widescreen, widescreen, widescreen. Store A listens to the people who "hate having their movies chopped up", and so they deal mostly with Pan & Scan versions. Store B informs customers that widescreen is the version that isn't chopped up. You can still get a P&S version there, but they mostly deal in widescreen. (FTR, I don't ever rent P&S)

2. They offer a "same-day return" discount. Bring a movie back the same day you rented it, get your second movie 1/2 off. I don't take advantage of it often, but when I do, it's a nice deal.

3. Here's the biggie -- video stores get their movies in 1-3 weeks before they're slated to be available for sale/rent. I've always been under the assumption that store are forbidden from selling/renting a particular movie until the official release date, but Store B doesn't seem to care. If they have it in the building, you can buy/rent it. Their purchase price is higher than it would be at the local big box, but if it's something the customer really wants two weeks early, they'll definitely pay for it (I'm living proof of that). This option obviously has its risks, but Store B has been doing it for at least five years now, and I'm not aware of any repercussions.
#30
Old 05-19-2006, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Briston
3. Here's the biggie -- video stores get their movies in 1-3 weeks before they're slated to be available for sale/rent. I've always been under the assumption that store are forbidden from selling/renting a particular movie until the official release date, but Store B doesn't seem to care. If they have it in the building, you can buy/rent it. Their purchase price is higher than it would be at the local big box, but if it's something the customer really wants two weeks early, they'll definitely pay for it (I'm living proof of that). This option obviously has its risks, but Store B has been doing it for at least five years now, and I'm not aware of any repercussions.
The repercussions come if someone turns them in. Street date violations are taken pretty damn seriously by distributors, and you can find yourself on a "no-preorder" list for repeated violations. That means they won't let you place any orders (and of course, get the merchandise) until after street date.

They're lucky they haven't been reported by the other local stores. It would even out the playing field really quickly.
#31
Old 05-19-2006, 01:10 PM
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Location: GA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Briston
3. Here's the biggie -- video stores get their movies in 1-3 weeks before they're slated to be available for sale/rent. I've always been under the assumption that store are forbidden from selling/renting a particular movie until the official release date, but Store B doesn't seem to care. If they have it in the building, you can buy/rent it. Their purchase price is higher than it would be at the local big box, but if it's something the customer really wants two weeks early, they'll definitely pay for it (I'm living proof of that). This option obviously has its risks, but Store B has been doing it for at least five years now, and I'm not aware of any repercussions.
Those have got to be bootlegs then. Absolutely don't go down that road. One of my competitors used to rent their legit copies early. They strong-armed their supplier into shipping them a day or so early so the store would "have time to enter them into inventory and prepare for rental." It was bullshit, they just wanted the jump on everybody else who played by the rules. The general public thinks it is a dumb rule, I know. But you do sign an agreement with a distributor saying you won't do that. If you're not a man of your word then, away with you.
#32
Old 05-19-2006, 01:31 PM
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I've got the add myself to the free kids movies idea.
My favorite all time movie rental store did that. It wasn't the new movies or the Disney.
It was the cheapy cartoons from TV kind of stuff. They had to have been very inexpensive to buy. (How much does Rocky and Bullwinkle cost?) But my SO and I went exclusively to that store, in large part because of those, and we don't have kids. We would rent 2 or 3 "real" movies for the weekend, and get a free Rocky and Bullwinkle. Made for a great evening or 2 or movie watching.

How about an employee recommendation shelf? Have each one pick out a movie that like, that isn't currently a best seller. Something people haven't heard of. Maybe write a couple of sentences about why they like it.
#33
Old 05-19-2006, 02:10 PM
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I love employee recommendations, as long as they're the actual recommendations of employees and not "recommend this, it isn't renting".

I absolutely hate the idea of name recoginiton. HATE. Especially paired with an adult section. I wouldn't come back... and I'd probably warn friends away because it's just too creepy.

The number one thing that brings me into a movie rental store is selection. I won't shop at the local Blockbuster because they don't have a good selection of older films.

Hire smart employees that know and love movies and pay them a good wage. I'm available.
#34
Old 05-19-2006, 02:34 PM
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One video store I used to frequent did something I loved as a kid/teenager.

If you rented 3 movies at a time, you would get a free promo item. Stores get tons of free posters, cardboard standups, mobiles, and other items from distributors, and end up throwing most of them away when the movie is no longer a new release.

This store had a cool "free promo item" corner. I would often go rent a bunch of crappy movies I didn't intend to watch just so I could lay my hands on the obscure "Howling 3: The Marsupials" poster that was destined to be a valuable collector's item someday (in my teenage eyes at least )
#35
Old 05-19-2006, 04:18 PM
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As far as late fees, I hate when you get the movie back the right day, after the deadline. You know, the movie's due back by 5:00, and you remember you've got the movie at 6:30? I usually just write off the days charge, and wait until the next day to take the movie back, since it's the same difference to me.

However, if I knew that I could get a discounted late fee, I'd return the movie that night. What I'm proposing is a time-structured late fee. The structure could be simple, and still work. E.G.:

Current practice: If you're late, you pay for another whole day. Manager can waive the fee.

Structured late fee: If you get the movie back within an hour of due time, no charge. If you get the movie back the right day, but late, 1/2 late charge. Otherwise, full day rental fee.
#36
Old 05-19-2006, 07:57 PM
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Whew, I just got home from a long day at the store -- over 11 hours on my feet. Business was slow for most of the day, but towards the end it started hopping -- that felt very good.

I'm beat and starving so I'm going to go get something to eat and relax, but I wanted to thank you all for the excellent, excellent advice. Some of it won't work for our store and/or customers (for example, the great majority of our customers prefer full frame to widescreen movies), but there are a lot of things there that I could try out. I expected a couple good responses from the Dope, but I didn't expect this much -- and from so many former video store managers to boot! Thanks again; I'll let you know how things go. And if more people have advice or ideas, by all means chime in -- like I said before, I'm open to everything.
#37
Old 05-19-2006, 09:28 PM
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Use a theme of the month, probably closely related to an event happening that month. With Netflix, horror movies are more difficult to find during October. Christmas movies are more difficult during December. Pick a theme for each month and use it to increase rentals of movies that people really want to see that night and that Netflix might be on long wait.
#38
Old 05-19-2006, 09:33 PM
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Would it be possible for customers to check their accounts over the web, or phone? The Toronto Public Library does this, and it's very handy. I can request items, see what I have out, check to see when things were borrowed and when they're due back, renew things, etc.

That way the harried parent could find out what movies the kids have out and may have lost behind the couch/lent to friends/gotten mixed in with the family's own videos/gotten eaten by the dog and not told anyone/lost down the heating ducts/etc.

Obviously this would be another big-bucks connection to your stock-keeping system.

Perhaps a simpler version would be an optional reminder service: two days before something is due, the customer gets a reminder email/text message/voice message sent to their chosen phone number or email address. I wish the Toronto library would do this instead of sending the message a week after the item is overdue.
#39
Old 05-19-2006, 11:00 PM
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I worked at a store that had a summer movie rental special for kids- basically for a flat fee kids could rent any kids movie. It brought a lot of people in.

If you have multiple employees, it might pay to have one wander the floor at peak times making recommendations and just talking about movies to the customer. It will make the employees happy and cultivate a neighborhood feel. Written recommendations are also a good idea.

The only reason anyone is going to go to a video store nowday is to get personal service and the stores that do well around here are the ones that really take on an friendly air of conneseurship- of really caring about these movies, working to offer rare ones, and having a bit of a "hang out" aspect to them. These stores that I've seen do well are anchors in the local film scene, and attract a lot of students, artists, etc. That doesn't mean you have to carry a lot of obscure movies (though that does help) but it does mean you want to have staff that really knows movies and get them talking with the customers.

Why not put up a suggestion builitain board. just leave a lot of index cards and pushpins, and make sure to write replies to each one and post them. It will give you good ideas and cultivate a neighborhood feel. A lot of neighborhood stores do this around here.
#40
Old 05-19-2006, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
I totally agree. I hate it when someone who I haven't formally introduced myself to uses my name. This would especially bug me in a movie store--If you know my name, what else are you keeping track of?
Uh, everything. Video stores generally have a full record of all of your transactions. It's essential to being able to work out late fees, etc.
#41
Old 05-19-2006, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by even sven
Uh, everything. Video stores generally have a full record of all of your transactions. It's essential to being able to work out late fees, etc.
Yeah, I know, but people still don't want to be reminded that the teenager checking them out knows thier porn rental history.
#42
Old 05-20-2006, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by even sven
Uh, everything. Video stores generally have a full record of all of your transactions. It's essential to being able to work out late fees, etc.
It's one thing for your identity to be visible to the parties in the transaction between the store and the customer. It's another thing to broadcast that information to others nearby.
#43
Old 05-20-2006, 01:54 AM
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I own a video store consulting business as well as run a buy/sell/trade video store. While the BST isn't quite the same as rental business I think I might be able to help you out a bit.

Overall i've found that, especially for smaller businesses in competition with larger ones, that the one of the biggest things that you can do to increase either the sales, rentals, or traffic of your store is to provide a "shopping experience" for your customers. Do something that they will remember you by such as providing excelent customer service, have a specialized selection of titles as well as your catalog ones, have daily promotions(free popcorn fridays for example). If you can create an environment that will make your customers WANT to brag to their friends about this "cool new store" they found you'll be well on your way to increasing your entire business.

As far as calling customers by their name, well, using your discretion seems to work best for me. You don't want to try and remember the name of a customer who comes in now and again and rents a select few titles. You do want to remember the names of customers who come in all the time and will freely talk to you or your employees. These are the customers that will rememer you too and will want your advise or opinions on a peer to peer level.

I don't know if you have a live or dead inventory (inventory actually on the foor vs. the actual movies behind the counter) but one thing to be carefulof is how you structure your shelves. You don't want to cram a lot of movies into a little space if you can help it. Spread out the titles, face out the good ones. You want the really nice titles to catch a customer's eye but you want them to stop and look at whats around them too.

Does your store have something to give to every customer when they walk out the door? something with your store's name, address, and phone number on it? Even if they never look at it these are types of things that can easily end up in the hand of a customers friend and will bring you more business.

As already mentioned, you can to a request list type of system where a customer can get in line for a title that is already rented out, you could also expand this to titles that customers would like to see in the store. This will at least give you an idea of what types of movies your customers would like to see, even if you never get any any. Another thing you can add on to this would be a place for the customer's name and address/e-mail. Of course you wouldn't want to sell the information to anyone, but it makes a great source for a mailing list for your own store that you can use to announce certain titles coming out. You can also use it to send out special deals to the "preferred" customers on your list. People seem to love these things and in my own store i've had people ask how they can get added to our mailing list just so they can get one of our mailers.

Video entertainment is also evolving a lot right now VHS is dead/dying DVD is being reduced in price to the point most people would rather buy and rent(even Movie Gallery/Hollywood and Big Blue are having issues) and two new competing formats are being introduced. There is a whole lot of things you can do with this, such as following suit with hollywood and blockbuster and having select sell through items, renting select HD DVD/Blu Ray titles, and even pulling aside classic, hard to find, and out of print VHS and setting up a collectables section.

With all the advise you've been given so far and any more to come I'm sure you'll figure out a successful solution. Good luck and I hope you, your store, and the owner can continue to evolve in the business.
#44
Old 05-20-2006, 03:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace
Perhaps a simpler version would be an optional reminder service: two days before something is due, the customer gets a reminder email/text message/voice message sent to their chosen phone number or email address. I wish the Toronto library would do this instead of sending the message a week after the item is overdue.
The Minneapolis Public Library does this. Just before it's due (2 days for videos, 1 week for books), they send an email to you reminding you of the due date. The message also mentions that you can renew the item, and gives the phone number and a link to the online web site for renewals.

That's really helpful!

They also offer a full catalog search online, plus the ability to request books from any library, and to have them shipped to the library nearest to you. Then you will get an email notice when the book arrives, telling you it's on hold for you.

All of these would be useful functions if you set up a reservations system at your store.
#45
Old 05-21-2006, 02:30 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 7,585
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainy
I'm stunned at the overwhelming negative response calling the customer by name is getting -- what are you people renting. I'll stand firm though on my opinion. You (the clerk) are looking at a screen that displays their name every time you do a transaction for them, so it is easly to learn.
Stand as firm as you like - the percentages on who likes it and who doesn't seem clear. It's unpleasant to me to be addressed by name by someone I'm not socially familiar with. I understand that when you handle my credit card or my video membership, you can see my name. It's still weird and awkward to me to be addressed that way by someone who's not my friend.

If I visit a video store often enough that the clerk and I recognize each other and are friendly, then it's okay - but even then, it's certainly not something that would particularly draw me to a store. If I don't feel like I know the clerk, it's absolutely creepy. Besides, it's something that has begun to feel unbelievably corporate to me, as that kind of thing is more and more common in the enforced faux-friendly world created by chain businesses. I like chatting with friendly employees. I don't like that startling moment when they use my name and I know they shouldn't know it, because I haven't told them. Bottom line - I like real friendliness, but I don't like that phony, carefully planned-out stuff.

I'm going to disagree with some people and suggest that some minor efforts to make people aware of the adult section might help. Don't promote it, obviously, but I would certainly be more willing to rent an adult title if I knew about the adult section than ask whether there was one (of course, I have the internet, which makes the video store kind of moot, really . . . .) My understanding is that most non-chain video stores make most of their money off of adult titles - they're something the chains simply won't compete with you on, so you've got a natural market there.

Others have mentioned discounts on movies based on returning them early. The local store I rent from allows you to choose with new releases - I think it's two bucks for one day, four bucks for five days. Since I often know I'll be watching a movie the day I rent it, I quite like this. But I think the credit towards another purchase for returning it early (make sure customers know!) is an even better idea, since they'll feel like they have to return it to get the deal. I just generally appreciate the flexibility I get from being able to choose how long I rent a movie for.

I don't know how much of your customer base is like this, so I'm not sure if it's a big moneymaker, but the single biggest draw of a video store for me is an extensive back catalog and particularly a good selection of foreign films. Blockbuster doesn't have those, so it seems like if there are customers for it at all, that would be a good way to distinguish a video store from its competition. But those might not draw enough people to be worth it.
#46
Old 05-21-2006, 03:53 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,816
Another vote for don't call strangers by name. Safeway has ruined that by forcing their employees to call everyone "Wrong Title" "Mis-pronounced First Name" "Mangled Last Name." When you get to know me because I'm a regular, then by all means, go ahead (but only if the clerks wear name tags, too, so I can call them by name too). When you're reading it off my membership card, don't do it. I won't like it, and I know the clerk is just doing it because some manager with a big idea made them do it.

We had a thread a long time ago called "Your Hidden Gems of Movies, " and we got A LOT of good suggestions for old and obscure but still excellent movies. I would love a video store with a "Hidden Gems" or "Obscure but Excellent" section in it - I don't see a down side, either, as these movies are almost uniformly older and while some may be a little hard to come by, they shouldn't cost nearly as much as new releases. And you only need one or two copies of most of them.

I'm a little concerned that your customers rent mostly full-screen. In my opinion, that is an indicator that you're not dealing with movie buffs. Maybe it's time for a little customer education.
#47
Old 05-21-2006, 04:56 PM
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Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 18,364
Quote:
REMEMBERING CUSTOMER'S NAMES: I'm thinking of asking my employees to try some tricks to remember our customers names, so that they can greet people by name when they come in the store. How would you feel about this -- would you find it pleasant, or disconcerting?
Very disconcerting, what are you monitoring my video habits? If I wanted that I would sign up for netflix
#48
Old 05-21-2006, 06:34 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: noitacol
Posts: 4,562
You might want to build up a collection of films that tie into a theme related to your local community. For example, if hockey is the big sport where you are, have a section of hockey films, and promote it right before, during or after the season. Around here there is a major documentary film festival, so it might work to have a bunch of the documentaries they showed in previous years. If there is a famous actor/actress from your area, have all their films.
#49
Old 05-22-2006, 01:06 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 13,516
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance
1. Schools. The local public schools around here will partner with anyone to sell anything. Talk to the principal at some elementary schools about doing a 'movie night' thing. Your promotion is that any rentals on day X identified from that school (receipts in a bucket or whatever) generate 10% to the school. Works here for local restaurants and such. Maybe the local PTO could assist. They pass out fliers you return some dough.
You might also try working directly with the teachers in the school.

Suggest to the English teacher that while they are studying the section on Shakespeare, you will offer a student discount on any of the many Shakespeare films you have, and students who turn in a review on the movie get extra credit in their English class. And give the teacher some coupons (Rent 1, get 1 free) to give out to reward students who get A or B on their review.

Then do the same with the History teachers. Revolutionary War, Civil War, settling the west, WWI, WWII, etc. all have films set in those times.

Also try math teachers (films on famous mathematicians), business teachers (films on business leaders), and even PE teachers (films on sports heroes)
#50
Old 05-22-2006, 02:46 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USofA
Posts: 3,630
You guys are really a wealth of information and ideas -- I really appreciate all the input so far. A couple of things:

-- Based on the response so far, I will abandon any idea of encouraging my employees to memorize customers' names, unless they do so naturally and the customer seems open to the idea. There's too much of a negative response here for me to think it would be a good idea.

-- The suggestions for getting internet terminals (with IMDB) or internet reservation systems or e-mail reminders would be great but are, unfortunately, way out of our league. The computer system we use isn't even Windows based; our one main computer does have Windows, but can only sign on to the internet for seconds at a time to send and receive e-mail on our ancient e-mail system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by featherlou
I'm a little concerned that your customers rent mostly full-screen. In my opinion, that is an indicator that you're not dealing with movie buffs. Maybe it's time for a little customer education.
Bingo. Unfortunately, we're not for the most part dealing with movie buffs here, at least not so far. I wish we were; it would make my job a lot easier. About 85% of our profits come from the new release wall, and the majority of the new releases that sell are the big Hollywood releases (for example, some of our current hot sellers are "Big Momma's House 2," "When A Stranger Calls," and "Hostel"). Our smaller, independant movies by and large just don't rent. The adult section accounts for another 10% of our profits, leaving the catalogue section just 5%. Of course the profits don't tell the whole story because the new releases and adult movies are more expensive than the catalogue movies. But even having said that, the catalogue movies just attract very little interest -- and most of the ones that do are just the newer ones; our classics and foreign sections go virtually untouched.

Maybe I should take the above as a challenge -- not just to educate customers, but as a way to generate extra revenue. There are lots of great ideas you guys have given to generate interest in our older movies -- theme shelves, movies related to the local community, etc.

-- Someone above recommended making the returned movies available to customers to look at before putting them back on the shelf. I love this idea -- it's so simple, and so plays to human nature! I do it myself -- whenever I'm at the library if I see a cart of items to be put back I'll immediately check it out to see if there are any hot items I should grab. Never occurred to me to put the same principle to use in the video store!

-- I think I will try to come up with some subtle way to draw more attention to the adult room. Even long-term customers have told me that they've never noticed it before, so it's obviously hidden away TOO well.

-- I like the free promo item idea; we have a lot of movie posters lying around -- may as well make some use out of them.

-- I will agree with those who say that customer service is ultimately the key. I'm finding that it's harder than I would have thought to keep my staff on their toes around the customers -- I think I'm going to have to get some management books. I do have a good crew, but I think they may see me as a lightweight, in part because I'm younger than all of them.

Lots of other good ideas on here; I'm going to have to print this thread out and take notes!
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