Kregel store prepares staff, experiences increased sales.

Jeremy Fleming

Jeremy Fleming, store manager of Kregel Parable Christian Stores in Grandville, Michigan, understands the value of training. He’s also a champion of the Get It Local Today! (GILT) program, which drives customers into brick-and-mortar stores.

He, along with industry veteran Erik Ernstrom, business intelligence manager for The Parable Group, and Tammy Horvath, CBA’s business development manager, participated in a webinar to share examples of how he and his team are connecting with new and existing customers through GILT.

One example Fleming shared is with the pick-up-in-store functionality if customers ask a retailer to hold a product for them.

“We learned from our mistakes,” he says. “One person was getting emails on a daily or weekly basis, receiving three or four a week, and what we learned right away was one person can’t be in charge. So, we set up an email account for the store and had two people receiving the emails—myself and the store, which meant the employees were looking at this email as well,” noting he has had some success in getting customers into the store because of this new technology.

“Everybody knows they should be watching email throughout the day. And there’s very little added work, as we receive three, four, or five a week. So, it’s not like they can’t be managed—but managing it well, even if it’s just a few a week, makes all the difference in the world,” Fleming says.

At five emails per week, that adds up to 200 visits per year, Ernstrom notes.

Fleming says once he or his staff member take care of the email, the item gets pulled, and it’s easily marked on the email account. They put a checkmark by it so everyone knows it’s been done.

“The store openers open up the email for the day, and it sits behind our Bookstore Manager program,” he says.

Employees know to downsize Bookstore Manager throughout the day. They look to see if anything’s new, check off anything they’ve done, and put Bookstore Manager right back up and continue.

Because more customers are using store websites to research product or find out more about a store, it’s not unusual for the store to get quite a few requests overnight. Knowing stores have something on the shelves also increases sales.

“People want to see that you have it, and if you do, they’re willing to make that trip,” Ernstrom says.

According to Fleming, his store differentiates on their website if they have a product in stock.

“If an item isn’t in stock, we call the customer to confirm that they want us to order it for them. And we have procedures in place, like a $5 deposit, that protect us from the person who just wants to put a bunch of stuff on order but will never come in to get it.”

That process has worked well for the store, he explains, because reaching out to the customer and making that one-on-one connection goes a long way in comparison to just sending a generic email stating the item is out of stock.

“A few weeks ago, we had a product that we only had one of. It was slightly damaged—not enough, necessarily, that the person wouldn’t want it, but we ended up calling to let them know. They said, ‘I’m so glad you called. It’s going to be for a gift.’ So, it gave us the opportunity to order one in from the distributor, get it in a couple of days, and it pleased the customer beyond what is typical for retail,” Fleming says.

To learn more about the GILT program, visit CBAOnline.org/get-local-today. The webinar can be accessed at CBAOnline.org/dont-waste-referral-get-local-today-webinar.

—Ginny McCabe