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Author Topic: What would make the perfect game store? (need ideas)  (Read 3856 times)
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Ridah
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« on: April 18, 2006, 05:51:53 AM »

Currently I'm an assistant manager at a high volume GameStop store, its one of the best performing stores in the company. Today I was promoted to store manager and next week I'll be taking over my own store, which is actually going to be an Electronics Boutique (GS and EB have merged). Its the normal sized store in a mall, and its very low volume. It's a fairly new store so its nice and clean, but it really doesn't get all that many customers and its one of the worst performing stores in the district. The district manager has a lot of faith in me because I'm one of the top performers in my store, I also learned everything very quickly operations-wise, so they fully expect me to turn things around at the store and bring it up within the district.

Now, this is where you guys and gals come in with tips/advice/ideas, etc. I tend to be an ambitous person, and my goal is to make my store the #1 performing store in the district, not in volume because that would be impossibly but in performance and percentage, i.e percentage of reservations per transaction, items per transaction, etc.

Besides pleasing the corporate suits at the top with good numbers though, I really want to create an environment that gamers would love to shop in. I want people to enjoy their visit at my store and want to do all their future shopping there. I've had a few ideas of my own that go beyond the average GameStop/EB experience, which include bringing a laptop and my LCD screen in to display DVD's that I put together displaying game trailers and such. When FF Advent Children comes out I'd love to have that playing. I also thought of having mini competitions of games like Super Smash Bros. melee where the winner wins a free game of their choice (its probably gonna come out of my pocket but I don't mind), and so on.

I was looking for more suggestions though, staying along realistic lines. Remember, I just work for the company, I don't own it, so I can't turn the store into my own playpen. I want to know though, what usually keeps you shopping at a particular game store? What would you like in a store that you don't see enough of (customer service? cleanliness?). I'm all ears people, help me make this the store gamers love to go to =)
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2006, 11:50:26 AM »

I don't know if this is the best forum for your post, but hey I'll chime in:


A quick story, Taco Bell's manager of the year makes 6 figures(includes Bonusses). Let that sink in. He could do almost anything else in the world but he runs a Taco Bell, and makes bank.

The key to his success?

Low to no Turnover.

The biggest problem with Gamestop, and retail in general?

Turnover.

EbGames was fairly good about turnover, they paid better than Gamestop, and in general got a higher quality employee. (note this is in general terms, we're not talking about you per se, as Gamestop has always had the three or four employees per district that were awesome but always spread way apart.)

So my first tip for you is; higher better people that are more likely to stay around longer and pay them better than anyone else. Sounds like a big task, but first thing you need to do is evaluate your current staff, find the stinkers that can't be molded into what you want and schedule them out the door.  You should already be looking for new employees.

Second, remember that selling is 90% building relationships. in your environment it's not easy to do that, but if you can figure out who your regulars are and slowly build rapport with them it will increase the volume in your store. Once you get your current regulars down then you can build on that. I can't think of a single person who doesn't like going into a store where someone knows their name(for the right reasons).

I'll have more for you later.
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2006, 01:00:10 PM »

I totally agree with Tebunker here.  Personally for me, customer service is priority #1.  I hate going into my local EB's nowadays only because the clerks are young punks who are rude and don't care about helping anyone except their buddies.


I refuse to go back to a restaurant or place of business that treats me like crap, regardless of the product.
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2006, 02:20:33 PM »

I concur.

I am very loyal to my EBGames because of the interaction and treatment I receive there.

It would be hard for me to buy a game product somewhere else
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2006, 05:01:53 PM »

As an ex-manager of an EB I can fully and entirely agree.  You need employees who enjoy their job, and you are the key to that.  Make sure your people take a magazine home and read it, make sure they know their games.  Encourage discussion that will lead to a sale.  And above all, both for you and for them, never have less than two people in the store.  It keeps shrink down and stops people from feeling completely overwhelmed.
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2006, 06:17:46 PM »

You should hire me!

OTHER THAN THAT, friendly employees are key.  If you have any sort of decision on who to hire, hire knowledgeable staff who actually knows their stuff.  Nothing more off putting than someone who works at a gamestore, but doesn't know anything about games.  It's annoying, and a little insulting.

There's a GameStop I HATED going to because of the idiot staff, but one of my favorite employee's transferred there, so I find myself a lot more willing to go there now.  All because of ONE employee whom I have formed a relationship with.  It's all about friendliness and having knowledgable people.
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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2006, 07:39:13 PM »

We saw a lot of that at my store TML.  People would call in to see when so and so was working to come in and ask for their purchase advice.  Its cool to have that level of customer connection. smile
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« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2006, 07:57:39 PM »

You need to have your whole staff knowledgable in gaming.  I can't tell you how many times I've asked an employee about a game to which they replied, "Ummmm, errr, I have no clue . . ."

Make sure they're reading gaming-related stuff in the industry!  I know it's a basic sort of thing, but people that work at a gaming store should have an advanced knowledge of games.

A tournament sort of deal would be pretty cool.  That's a good idea.

Personally, I dislike it when an employee asks if I want insurance for a game I'm purchasing.  I know it provides extra revenue and all, but I don't know.  Maybe it's cool to ask Mothers who come in with their sons/daughters . . . I don't know.  It's just off-putting for me.

So I guess the best advice I could give personally is this - gamers like talking about games.  Make sure your staff knows about current games, new reviews, games coming up, and so on.  And I prefer going to gamestore that have lots of space - I really dislike it when I'm cramped in a gamestore.
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2006, 09:47:52 PM »

Oh and when people say read about games, we mean that they should be avid readers of IGN, Gamespot, Gamingtrend etc. etc.

I will admit that I get perturbed when I go into a gamestore and listen to the employees talk about stuff they have no idea what they're talking about.

I am dead serious about paying these people more also. You're better off having 2 great employees at $10 a hour then three average ones at $6 a hour.

frankly, in my two years at Eb, I think they were/are serioulsy mismanaged. I have always thought that Gamestop was even more poorly managed. Was really surprised that GS bought EB, but then I remembered that barnes and Noble owns GS, so really they bought Eb.

Just remember, selling is about building relationships and doing the extra things for your customers and employees. As long as it's not unethical or illegal, you should do everything in your power to help them. One of the best sayings I learned quickly in  my Sherwin Williams Career is. "This is my policy, until my customer asks me to do something different."(yes that  meant going against some company policies, which is another spiel all in it's own) As long as it wasn't illegal nor unethical I did just about everything for my customers and it worked. Some have become fiercely loyal and all of them respect me and work with me. It's harder to do in your type of retail, but whenever you get the opportunity to set yourself apart from your colleagues in the customer service arena, seize it.
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2006, 11:00:11 AM »

One of the things that draws me into the store (when I was not headed there anyway) is one of those playable kiosks running something interesting.  I like to be able to try stuff out before I buy it if I can.  On the flip side, it bugs me to no end when I walk into the store and the kiosk is turned off.  Or has a non-playable demo running.

I don't know how much control you have over this as store manager (whether it's individual store policy or company-wide), but I absolutely hate asking for a new game and getting a previously gutted box.  This holds true for both console and PC games.  I understand the need to keep games in the back room to prevent theft.  Fine.  Go back and get me a brand new, cellophane-wrapped, unopened copy of what I'm asking for.  If I keep getting offered previously gutted boxes, I'm not coming back to your store. (I have already made this shift in my buying habits.  There are enough stores that sell both PC and console games that it is easy enough to do -- and the prices are pretty much the same no matter where you shop).

- Don
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2006, 08:20:15 PM »

lol...

I avoid EB and Gamestop unless I enjoy browsing, not as much because I am poor ATM as I have an idea even though I avoid reading about new and upcoming games I still know more about most things than anyone who works there.  It's rare when you can sit there and shoot the shit about random games and have someone else who works there who can do it as well.   It would definately rtaise the store raiting in my eyes.

I'm not sure how much leeway you have over whats carried in your store, but I'd see what people in that area really enjoy doing and put up a rack for just that.  IF your people (You will have to talk to them and get to know them and thier hobies, which you should be doing anyways) are all fans of wargames, maybe bringing in a rack of Settlers of Catan or Books on the subject might make them more apt to come in and browse and pick items up.   I'm not saying try to compete with stores built for just that, but just give your customers another reason to stop in more often.
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2006, 08:48:52 AM »

A lot of great stuff said here.  I'll repeat what's been said a bit, but gotta throw in my 2 cents...  biggrin

customer service.  It can't be said enough.  If I'm in a store several times and feel comfortable enough to talk to the person behind the counter extensively, asking opinions and whatnot, they should be able to remember my name... even if they just gleam it from my credit card.  whether it's Mr. or my first name.  At least recognize that I've been in the store before.

To go with that, I don't know how many times I've been in a store and asked about a product and they have no idea what it is.  A lot of it, I feel, has to do with their personal gaming preferences.  I like wrestling games.  If you don't and I ask when the next SmacDown game is supposed to be released, don't shrug and say "I don't know."  When I was at Target (Target, fer cryin' out loud!) we had an estimated shipping date schedule of music, movies and games for the next 3 months, approximately.  Nintendo always kept us stocked with flyers that had release dates of the next several months and major release dates for 6 months or so.  Obviously those are tentative dates, but it give you something to tell the customer who's asking.  I know I've asked for a game and the person working says "Never heard of it" while it had been released a week or two before.  
I guess, in other words, keep the employee's informed.  On all products.

I don't know how much control you may have over this... but one of the main reasons I browse EB or GS is the previously played games.  I rarely buy new games at full price.  I'm patient, I can wiat 6 months for them to be used for $30 or less.  One thing EB/GS does is the "Buy 2, get 1 free" sale... that rocks.  I know those are corporately mandated events and you can't just hang a sign and do it... but if you see someone who's looking at a few games, and decides to put one back and they say it's due to not wanting to spend a lot of money... well, if they're buying 2 or 3 products already, offer to pick up the one they put back.  As he manager, you HAVE to have an override code to change the price.  Remember the regulars as well.  More than a couple times the manager at a GS I used to visit offered to take care of the $5 pre-sale on a game he KNEW I'd want.  It's a great way to make the regulars feel the love.

If you could empower your employees to do the same thing when your not there, that would be great as well.  Granted, that leaves the employees opportunity to give out free games...

so hire really competent people.  I know it's hard to do sometimes.  One may nail an interview and end up a complete slacker... but get the people in.  sometimes it may just take a college kid who's going to quit when they're done with school anyway, but if they're a gamer and love gaming, they'll work hard for you and you may get a few good years out of them.
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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2006, 01:49:09 AM »

I mainly shop for bargain games as well.  Only about 10% of my game purchases are newly release games (and in actuality it may be lower).

One thing I find amusing to some degree is when prices on old games are just as much as new, or when used games are priced the same as new games elsewhere.  Sometimes it seems places would rather have shelves literally overflowing with older used games, and they price them so high most people aren't going to buy them.

Price stuff to move!  You will probably end up getting it back in a few months anyway, once the person moves on to another game.

Actually, having some promotion which takes advantage of that concept, like a guaranteed amount of store credit if you sell it back within x amount of months, would be really great.
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2006, 02:48:55 PM »

my biggest reason for avoiding gamestop/EB is pushy salespeople.

I expect to be acknowledged when I walk in the door, but past that just make yourself available for questions. I despise getting locked into a situation where I have to be a rude prick in order to disengage from them or to say no to the 50 million thing some drone is trying to sell me. The best salepeople are like the best waiters - available, yet invisible.

That being said, selectively hire and pay well. Hit other stores in the area and see what they are doing and how their staff is. If you find someone that impresses the shit out of you, try to lure them away to work at your store. Always take care of regulars, and by that i mean the ones that actually spend coin, not the hang-arounds that loiter at the counter.
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2006, 08:43:20 PM »

I'm annoyed at the current "did you bring anything in to trade?" trend.  My response the last time I was asked?  I lifted both hands up and said, "Does it look like I'm carrying anything?"
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2006, 09:19:44 PM »

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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2006, 10:16:35 PM »

I've been leary about Gamestop but have shopped there some.  Last night I bought two games - one used and one "new".  Though the "new" game was really opened and they had the disc behind the counter.  Well the "new" one had some glue ( ! ) on the disc so the store clerk wiped it off and it looked okay to me in the store so I bought them both.

When I played the used game it crashed my Gamecube twice in one hour and the "new" game turned out in brighter light to now have several scuffs and scratches on it where he tried to wipe up the glue.

I took both back today to the same Gamestop and they accepted both and refunded my money with absolutely no hassle.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2006, 01:00:06 AM »

More than likely the glue is the disc scratch remover crap that they smear on the discs that are really screwed up.  It fills in the scratches but often doesn't save the disc itself.
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2006, 03:21:19 PM »

Quote from: "Zarkon"
I'm annoyed at the current "did you bring anything in to trade?" trend.  My response the last time I was asked?  I lifted both hands up and said, "Does it look like I'm carrying anything?"
haha, that's too funny. It bothers me too honestly. I can't stand when they ask that. I don't have anything, I would tell you if I did. Get a clue.
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2006, 08:53:51 PM »

Ditto on the "did you bring anything to trade?"  but that has got to be mandated from on high.   I would bet that the "secret shopper" that came in and didn't hear that would report it back to the powers that be with consequences to be served.    

I like the EBGames by my house but it is because of the guys that talk to me.  They are friendly when you go in.  They aren't rude and while they seem "hip" (from a gaming standpoint) they aren't obnoxious.  My beef is I know more about the games and release dates of new games than they do most of the time.   The plus side is these guys don't try to bullshit you with information they don't really know.

Another issue is prices....or more specifically lack of price-matching.  My EBGames doesn't do it and I'm assuming none of them do.  I will go across the street to Target to get the item on sale or visit the CC 15 minutes up the road for their loss-leader.  If I could get the same price at the EBGames, I would support it more.  

The EBGames by my house doesn't seem to have as much in the used 360 inventory.   Is this just because the locals aren't trading in or is there some kind of "used game sharing program" among EBGames locations and the one by my house is on the short end of the stick?   I was in there on Friday and all they had were PDZ and one of the football games.   The one closer to my work always has a better selection of used 360 games.

My last issue is the manager himself....he's kind of got that used-car salesman feel to him.  I would much rather talk to his employees who at least seem to care about what I want to buy.  They do recognize me by face at least.  

- shaggy
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« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2006, 09:48:42 PM »

One other thing... make sure your gamer employees are sales people.

There's nothing more annoying than some schmuck who's telling you that you shouldn't bother with the Xbox360, cuz the PS3 is gonna "Stomp that crap into the ground". It's not professional to dis half of your products based on personal bias. Hey, SOMEONE wanted Barbie Horse Adventures made.

They shouldn't lie about it, but having a bit of knowledge on the product is a great thing.
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