If you’re like most retail business owners, you know that merchandising is a critical part of your success. You may have tried to do it yourself, but found that it’s more complicated than you thought. Or maybe you’ve been hiring consultants to help with merchandising, but haven’t been happy with the results. If this sounds like your situation, keep reading!
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what to look for when hiring merchandising services. We’ll give you tips on how to find the best consultants for your business, and we’ll tell you what to expect from the relationship.
Here are some tips on what to look for:
Make sure the consultant has experience in the industry you’re looking to grow. Check out their website to see examples of visual merchandising projects they’ve done in the past. Look for clues that suggest the consultant has plenty of experience with businesses similar to yours. If you’re in a particularly unique niche then you may need to look for a specialist merchandising consultant who has worked in similar situations.
You’ll also want to check on their experience with projects of a similar scale. For example, if you’re operating a franchise system, you’ll want to be sure they know how to systemize the merchandising process. In fact, systemization can be the key to consistency when it comes to merchandising in any business. Every business should systemize its process.
Merchandising consultants can have different areas of expertise, so it’s important that you find one with knowledge in your specific industry. They should know the ins and outs of your business, what trends are popular in your niche, and how to reach your sales goals.
Ask what areas of merchandising they specialize in, and how much time they spend on each one (e.g., strategy development versus execution). Be sure that their expertise aligns with your intended outcome.
Whenever hiring a consultant of any kind, you should ask for references and check them thoroughly. It’s easy for fast-talking sales professionals to tell you what you want to hear in order to sign you up, but you won’t know for sure how good they are until you speak to their previous clients.
Ask the consultant you’re considering for a list of references and then take the time to call them. Ask about the quality of the work they did, whether they met deadlines, and if there were any problems along the way. You can also ask how responsive they were to feedback and suggestions. It would be fantastic if you can learn what tangible goals were achieved, such as sales growth, improved marketing results, or cost reductions.
Make sure you check references from different clients, as it’s possible you might be speaking to one of the consultant’s friends who is willing to give a glowing recommendation. If you’re able to find some more neutral reviews and feedback you’ll have a more realistic view of what you can expect.
While formal qualifications can be beneficial, particularly if you are hiring someone with little experience, you should really be looking for someone who you connect with, understands your brand, and has creative flare. They’ll help you introduce creativity into your corporation.
Make sure you discuss your creative goals for the project before hiring a consultant. Merchandising is a creative industry so you’ll want to ensure you hire a consultant with a creative flair that you appreciate. Creativity can be subjective so you need to be sure you find someone you connect with and who understands your brand.
Your consultant should be able to help you create a comprehensive strategy that will communicate visually what you stand for. In some instances, they can also help you implement your plan across all of your marketing channels. If you want to get the most out of your consultant then it’s a good idea to have some in-depth conversations to see what makes them tick.
Look at the Merchandising Consultants portfolio to get an idea of their work style and approach. Do you like their style? Do they have a lot of experience working with brands similar to yours? These are important questions as you’ll want someone who understands your business and can help you reach your goals.
When it comes to hiring a merchandising consultant, you should take the time to find one that you connect with and who understands you. Seeing really is believing in this industry so if a merchandising consultant can’t present a strong portfolio of past work, be very cautious hiring them.
These days portfolios are commonly presented on a consultant website however that may be outdated or a little hard to search through so you may ask if you can see their portfolio in the form of a PDF or PowerPoint presentation.
When you’re looking for a merchandising consultant, it’s important to set clear expectations of want they need to do for you. Do you need someone to help with your overall branding and strategy? Or maybe you need someone who can just come in to organize your retail space.
You’ll need to understand what service they will actually provide. Some consultants are more hands-on than others so you should set clear expectations.
Not all consultants are created equal, and you want to make sure you’re hiring the best one for your business. You’ll want to make sure you ask the right questions to figure out if they’re a good fit but also be clear on all inclusions and fees. You can expect to pay a project fee, an hourly rate, and sometimes both depending on what the service is. You’ll also need to factor in any materials and third-party costs that may be required to see your merchandising vision become a reality.