300 Seconds

Photos ready? Update your bios, too.

Yesterday I wrote about gathering together photos and image of your store and staff. Today, take 300 seconds and gather bios of staff. These are important to have on hand in case you’re ever asked to give a talk at a regional trade show or a local book club.

When writing your bio, it’s important to include professional successes. But don’t forget to share a little about your personal life. You’ll want others to relate to you and understand that you’re human.
If you already have a bio written, take a look at it to see if it’s current. If you have more than one, clearly name the file you want to keep and then delete the others.

Finally, if you’re ever asked to provide an introduction, bios can be easily adapted. So if you have extra time in these 300 seconds, go ahead and adapt it and save the file as an introduction.

300 Seconds: Store Photos

300 Seconds: Store Photos

Jamie Fiocco_7127Last week, I wrote a piece about the 5th Anniversary of Flyleaf Books. I told owner, Jamie Fiocco, which image I planned to use, and she sent a few other options to consider if I needed them.

I used two of the photos she sent–one in the newsletter and one on the web–and I told her how much I loved them. She told me, “A local magazine did a profile of me (and other women in the community) and I asked the freelance photographer if I could buy the photos from the shoot for personal/business use, and we ended up trading store credit for them. I didn’t have access to them until after the article came out, of course, but it was a win-win.”

Take 5 minutes a take inventory of your store images. You should have a good mix of indoor photos, outdoor images of the store in different seasons, and staff photos.

You’ll want to have these on hand in case you’re featured in a piece for a travel magazine (they love destination bookstores), or say, an industry specific newsletter.

If you’re not photo savvy, check with staff, friends or customers who might work for store credit.

And after you have your images set, consider posting them for download on the media page of your website. This way you have a little more control about what images are used to represent your store… and not just the results of a Google Images search.

300 Seconds: Prepare for a Different Season

If you’re in an area of the country recently affected by the arctic blast, it provides another way to think about and prepare for the season.

To help customers get to your doors, keep a path clear from the parking area to your front door with three simple tools: a snow shovel, a broom, and magnesium chloride–a salt of magnesium and chlorine which melts snow and ice. This is especially necessary if your area is experiencing snow melt and refreezing overnight.

If snow continues to fall throughout the day, keep going outside to clear the path. Seeing you on the sidewalk will be a good indication to the public that you are still open.

Prepare inside with extra mats for boot stomping, which will help protect your hard floors from slipping dangers and your carpets from mud and that magnesium chloride. If you do have hard floors, a cautionary “wet floors” sign might be in order.

This is also a good time to launder items that have been in your lost and found box for a while. Hand out those gloves, scarves and umbrellas as they’re needed.

300 Seconds: Prepare for the Season

With the holiday shopping season upon us, take a little bit of time to look around the store to see if you’re ready. Displays and inventory are important, but I’m referring to theft and safety.

A good way to deter theft is to be present in the store. Walk around and check on customers, strike up conversations. And don’t make it easy; place the more tempting items near the register.

We want to deter shoplifters, but we also do not want to attract thieves with the extra holiday cash.

  • Do you have a plan to skim excess cash from the drawer? What happens to it after it is removed?
  • Are there windows near where you reconcile the registers?
  • Does the person who makes the bank deposit take the same route each time?
  • Does the staff know how to react during a robbery?

Invite your neighborhood police officer to the store to walk around and identify potential areas of concern. This is another time when a different perspective is helpful.

While some people might call this being paranoid, I like to think of it as being prepared. (And just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.)

Policy Makers

I don’t know about you, but it’s been my experience that people tend to not question policy. I even tested the theory at home. Before the No Call List went into effect, I set a ‘policy’ for telemarketers. “I’m sorry. Our policy does not allow for telephone solicitations at home.” The reaction? They would apologize and end the call. Who’s going to argue with policy?

Today, take 300 seconds and make a list of subjects about which you continually return to to make decisions.

  • Author events.
  • Book clubs.
  • Donations requests.
  • Self-published books.
  • Returns.
  • Employment applications.
  • Discounts.
  • Website and email privacy.

After you create the list, as you have time, create policies for each list. Share the policies with the staff and, if appropriate, post them on your website. In the coming days, we’ll look at policies set by your fellow bookstores through some Quick & Dirty Results. Tomorrow we’ll look at self-published book policies and on Friday we’ll find out what start times work best for bookstore events.

By taking the time to outline your policies now, you’ll save so much time in the future. Plus, having a policy in place will keep the staff on the same page, relaying the same message.

Sometimes you might want to make exceptions for policies. But make sure it stays the exception, and don’t let it become the rule. Because having a policy in place means you’ll no longer have to make it up as you go along.