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  • Music to Your Ears

    The Retail Florist

    Have you ever been to a store that you just couldn't wait to leave? Not because the service or the merchandise was poor, but because something about the store just made you feel uncomfortable. Think for a second about what that "something" was. Could it have been the music? If it is too loud, too young or just too annoying, music can make people very uncomfortable — without their knowing why.

    It Sinks In

    Music has a way of sinking into — and impacting — our subconscious. Countless studies have shown the right music can do everything from helping plants grow better to boosting a baby's intelligence.

    What's another one of music's "magical" powers? Making customers buy more — or at least putting them in the right frame of mind to do so. This is one effect that you can achieve just by flipping the radio dial.

    Name That Tune

    Which type of music is right for your shop? That depends primarily on the type of customers you serve.

    Many shop owners err by choosing the music they or their employees like. That could be a mistake — especially if your staff and customers don't have that much in common.

    Think instead about what your customers might prefer. The following paragraphs provide some suggestions. If, for example, you primarily serve:

    • Senior citizens — Try big band, classical or popular hits of the 1940s and 1950s.
    • Baby boomers — Maybe rock (especially light rock), pop hits for the 1960s and 1970s or classical.
    • Twenty - and thirty-somethings — Go with light jazz, new age or mixed-era hits.

    If you're not sure which musical styles your customers would enjoy, make a conservative choice.

    Classical, for example, is pleasing to many people and will offend very few. New age (Windham Hill label artists, for example) and Celtic music (such as Clannad or Cherish the Ladies) are also widely appreciated.

    The music you play might even vary by time of day. Consider big band for your morning senior shoppers and light jazz for career couples who stop by after work.

    Don't discount the influence of ethnic groups within the community. If you want to attract and keep customers from these groups, feature music they might enjoy.

    Your Image

    Your choice of music should also project how you would like your shop to be seen.

    For upscale shops, classical music is a given. A hip and funky neighborhood shop, on the other hand, might do well with something a little more unusual.

    Just be sure that your choice does not stray far from what your customers like. The goal is not to force your image on them, but to enhance it in their minds.

    A Big No-No

    There's only one music category that you should definitely avoid, and it's not really music at all. It's talk radio — the one form of listening entertainment that's guaranteed to offend some customers.

    So, even if you think Rush Limbaugh is brilliant or Howard Stern the funniest man alive, it's probably best to keep those observations to yourself.

    Do Employees Count?

    Although you want to think of your customers' taste first, don't overlook the preferences of your staff. After all, they will be listening to the music day in and day out.

    Young employees might love music that older customers just can't stand — and vice-versa. Volume, too, can be another point of contention. Employees may enjoy loud music to get their creative juices flowing. Customers, on the other hand, rarely appreciate anything played at more than a background volume.

    Try to reach a compromise, perhaps by playing employees' favorites when the shop is less busy. Or think of ways to soundproof the design area to allow employees to listen to their own selections there.

    Radio or No?

    Many shops simply use the radio to provide "mood music." That's perfectly fine if you and your customers don't mind the occasional commercial interruption.

    What's an even smarter strategy? Offer the music you play in your shop for sale to your customers. The next time you go to market, look for companies that produce low-cost, quality CDs and cassettes. Or search out local talent (acoustic guitar acts, for example) and make a deal to resell their music.

    Display a few CDs and cassettes near a "now playing" sign in your shop. If you've chosen well, the music will do its own selling for you. Change your offerings with the seasons. Consider holiday hits for Christmas and romantic favorites for Valentine's Day. You might even come up with a music-and-flowers package for holidays and other special occasions.

    It Hath Charms

    Well-chosen music can increase employees' productivity and loosen customers' purse strings. The wrong music can have just the opposite effect.

    Make the right listening choices for your shop. The resulting sound of a ringing register will be music to your ears.


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