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Summertime Blues... It really is a choice.

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Summertime Blues?? It really is a choice.

I guess we can call this the Second Annual Summertime Blues News…If I could only remember what I did with the copy from last year I would just resend that, but that would be too easy.

Every season seems to have its challenges and Summer is no exception.

This note is NOT an advertisement for anything other than we all have a vested interest in attracting new customers and maintaining and growing existing business.

I hope you find something here to be helpful or that simply reignites that creative spark that seems to go on vacation in the summer for many dealers.

Over the years I found dealers that rolled up the carpet in the summer and others that seemed to always have a need for product and somehow had an oasis of activity in their stores. When looked at closer there were things in common with both versions.

The main difference, even in today’s difficult environment appears to be ATTITUDE and EFFORT.

You could choose to turn on the radio, sit at your desk and check out your Face book page or take a nap in the storage room because your view is that summer is what it is, a dead season. Cancelled lessons, vacation schedules, money being spent on leisure activity…um, I thought playing guitar or Uke or Piano for many people was a leisure activity.

Rule # 1—things don’t work unless you do. I think I got that from a fortune cookie but it could not be a more valid statement.

Below are some time proven ideas that cost little or no money but do require you to put out an effort. After all it is summer and from what I hear every year many of you have a lot of time on your hands because customers are not walking in your door.

Sorry folks but even in Seasons that we consider the “hot” months, the idea that people just finding their way to your door has simply changed. Refer back to Rule #1.

Lesson Programs:

This topic was recently covered in one of the trade magazines, not well but was discussed.The growth of independent lesson studios has grown by leaps and bounds.I look at this in two different ways.

  • 1.New Future Retailers:At some point they will realize they can pay most of their rent by selling accessories and that will in time grow into selling instruments and before you know it we have a new crop of stores with studios..(history repeats itself)- and they may replace you.
  • 2.Competition for your store and studio: These stand alone “music schools” are often managed by professional educators. They focus on the student and the parents of the student and many present a very professional looking operation with professional looking staff focused on teaching.

                                                                     If you have teachers and studios:

Do your teachers present a professional image?

Are the studios clean, well lit and a comfortable?

Do the teachers set goals for themselves and for their students?

Are they visible for customers to see and realize you have a professional lesson program?

Do the parents feel comfortable with the visibility of the studios? Can they visit or sit on occasion?

Do you offer feedback to the parents?Do you offer recitals or jam nights?

Your new local “music school” most likely does.

Where would you want your child to take lessons? Where would you want to take lessons?

Now the easy stuff…

Free morning adult lessons..Group or introductory private lesson (after all you have the time)

Free Morning or Afternoon TEEN group lessons. Make it fun, social and learn to play a musical instrument- and your store is a “social place” and fun to hang out.

Oh yea, Rule #2.

Activity generates more activity.

Restaurant # 1… nice building, but nobody sitting at tables.. Restaurant # 2—looks very simple and clean andthe tables are full of people.. Where would you want to eat??

On -Line Lessons… Your teachers can produce a short introductory lesson or presentation that can be posted on your web site.Think of it as a sample or as an opportunity for customers to “audition” your professional staff and for your staff to “sell their services”.

Of course I have to mention Guitar In 5!  Nothing for sale, no gimmicks- just a time proven educationally sound tool to show almost anyone they can play a musical instrument.


Sunday—Have a Let’s Make a Deal Day! (OK can be any day but think of it as an Auction—or have some selected items and set a low bid starting point. What is important here is that it is above board and done on a regular/same day basis so people learn about it, look forward to it and want to participate every week or month or whatever works best for you.

How about a Silent Auction… 4 items on a table- customers write down their bid.. someone wins—you make a big deal of it.. and back to rule #2—Activity generates more activity.

Store window signs- Do you think it might be time to get the local graffiti artist to come in and do something different to your worn out store window display…???

Involve the local school and their art department. Lets see.. new kids at your store painting your windows… (Maybe a contest for the best ideas) they see musical instruments and someone asks… do you have lessons? How much is that guitar?Really folks if you cannot see the free value here and how to use some of these tools you need a new line of work.

Social Media: I will be the first to admit I do not and have never used Facebook or Twitter… but If I were a retail operation I have no idea how you can even exist without the use of social media today.

Just make it relevant, useful and informative and don’t overstay your welcome or bomb people to death with your announcements.

Web site: this is for our more senior store owners. If you do not have a “landing page” web site showing your location, services, phone number, email address and a few friendly pics of your business it is time to get on board. This is the new yellow pages.. and much more effective and much less expensive.

                         Of course there are these old standby idea that are very effective and low or no cost.

Re-String Night

Free Guitar Set ups—( basic of course- not repairs)

Jam nights- styles, ages, performance levels..requires real management so people have fun.

Open Mic nights—Adults, Teens, Men , Woman- mixed social – ok buy a few pizzas.

FREE Workshops and Clinics:

Finger picking night, Heavy meal night, folk night, Jazz chord night, lead guitar night, UKE night, 12 String Night…

Effect pedal night (how to hook up, use and make crazy noise).. it’s fun and informative and you sell cables and effects…

Improve your performance—bring in a local pro to discuss gigging—how to manage bookings, song selection and performance tips..

Audio—PA night—mics and how to use.

Digital Recording—Intro to..

Most all of these can be accomplished with little or no cost. Social media announcements, ( collect every email address you can get your hands on with a very clear “sign up sheet”--low cost printed flyers, window signs you can do yourself and of course talking about the events to EVERYONE… including your local school, newspaper and social clubs including Senior Groups, Church and Youth Groups.

OK, enough!

To review, what is the difference between a guaranteed “dead summer” and the possibility of an active summer?

What is rule # 1 and how does it apply?

What is rule # 2 and how can you apply it to your business?

Hope you found something here that you can use. Most likely I will stumble over the note from last year with ideas I may have not covered here.. will send it if I find it. If you have a copy please send it to me..


John Broermann

Aka: Johnny Corbin

Music Dealers Resource Group LLC

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