We’ve talked a lot about your events, but what about the rest of your store? Let’s dive into the different ways of expressing your business to be more appealing to customers.
Review the Customer Experience checklist here:
This article will cover the following topics in more detail:
- Store Atmosphere and Features
- Staff and Training
- Professionally Run Events
- Code of Conduct and Inclusivity
- WPN Premium
Store Atmosphere and Features
You might not be the only game store in your area. You might not even be the only game store in your town! Even if you are, you’re certainly not the only place people go to have fun. To attract the widest range of customers, start thinking of yourself in the ranks of these other spaces.
How do you stand out?
Control the Environment
It’s important to appeal to your customers' senses by managing what they see, hear, and smell while in your store.
- Smells. Feature warm or neutral scents and avoid intrusive or distinctive smells. Consider where your garbage cans are located and how often they are emptied and be mindful of weak spots where ventilation doesn’t work as well.
- Sounds. Consider light music for ambience and pay attention to inappropriate sounds. Do you have loud machinery, or poor acoustics in certain areas? See what can be done to address those issues.
- Sights. Take care to have a photogenic store. Tidy up all eyesores like loose cardboard, re-face inventory on shelves, and touch up scuffed paint on the walls occasionally.
Highlight Your Best Features
It’s unlikely there are other stores in the area with your specific set of benefits. Think about what sets your store apart from the other options and maximize the value you gain from those features.
Do you feature any of these key elements?
- Store hours. Your store is consistently open at accessible hours, serving family-friendly audiences, after-school audiences, and late-night audiences.
- Location. You are close to restaurants, are in a walkable area, and either have easy parking access or are accessible by public transit. You are aware of your neighborhood resources, so you can support your customers’ needs.
- Product Variety. You have a wide range of other products that customers can buy, which gives your non-Magic customers something to interact with and further diversifies your potential customer base.
- Organization and cleanliness. You have a regular and thorough cleaning schedule, and your store’s inventory is easy to navigate. Players want to spend more time in your space.
- Knowledgeable Staff. Your staff knows most of the products in your store or knows how to get necessary information for a customer quickly. Your staff is also able to provide game recommendations.
- Engagement. Your staff is friendly and takes the time to interact with all customers enthusiastically.
- In-Store Concessions. You offer drinks and snacks to satisfy your player’s needs.
- Local Partnerships. You have arrangements with nearby vendors to help your players find food quickly.
- Mindful Selection. You offer an assortment of food to accommodate different dietary needs.
Fun and Function
- Game Library. Your players have access to either board games or video games that they can play while they are at your store.
- Café/Lounge. Your space is comfortable and suitable for relaxing or doing non-gaming activities (coffee, studying, hanging out).
- Side Events. You organize extra activities during events to increase player involvement such as quizzes, mini-games, puzzles and riddles, or arts and crafts.
Professionally Run Events
Take some notes from our requirements for stores that want to run premier-level tournaments, and improve the environment you host your events in. Here is a quick checklist of things to consider when cultivating a great event.
- Your important event details are communicated. Prize distribution, registration, start times.
- Your events start on time, and you use a timer to ensure rounds turn over quickly.
- You have supplies like pen and paper available for players to use.
- Your play space is attractive and comfortable.
- You have adequate spacing between tables and chairs, for maximum mobility.
- You have adequate lighting and temperature control.
- Your restrooms are accessible and cleaned frequently.
- You have adequate parking or promote local transport options.
- You provide adequate staffing for your events.
- You have professional and adequate garbage and recycling stations.
Staff and Training
Your employees play critical roles in your customer’s experience, so take the time to make this resource work for you.
We wanted to present some options to consider when thinking about strengthening and diversifying your team.
- Encourage diversity and inclusion. A diverse staff may help to attract and support a diverse player base.
- Hire staff with sales experience. Consider hiring people with direct experience in customer service or retail. This may mean hiring outside of your local community of players. Broadening your search this way may allow you to bring in candidates with more diverse backgrounds. While these employees may need to be taught how to play and sell Magic, it is easier to teach Magic than it is to teach good sales techniques. Read on to “Essential Wizards Play Network Knowledge” for what we consider important reading for new staff members.
Managing how they interact with your customer base is an essential step in cultivating a professional retail environment.
- Treat all customers with respect. Your staff should be good role models both in public and in private. They set the tone and become moderators of your store’s culture, and your customers tend to follow. Make sure neither your staff nor your players are learning and spreading bad habits.
- Greet every customer. A simple wave, nod, or acknowledgement whenever a customer comes into the business can do a world of good. It promotes a friendly atmosphere, it helps the customer know who they can speak to when they want help, and it discourages shoplifting.
- Have a dress code or branded store uniform. Help your customers identify staff by having shirts with your store logo, a lanyard, nametag, or some other standards for attire.
- Set an example. Your staff sets the example for your customers’ behavior, so being mindful of their language and their enthusiasm for the products you sell can make a difference.
As The Dragon's Jenn Haines points out, it’s a good idea to document your store and event processes. This will help you maintain a consistent experience and make it easier to train future employees.
Common hobby store training manuals may include some of the following topics. This is not an exhaustive list but should give you some guidelines of what you want laid out in plain language for your training regimen.
- Terms of Employment
- Greeting Customers
- Staff Dress Code
- Language/Behavior Policy
- Implicit Bias Training
- Opening and Closing Procedures
- Cleaning and Maintenance Procedures
- Inventory Stocking Procedures
- Technology Policy (Wi-Fi, Computing)
- Handling Transactions
- Buying and Selling
- Event Advertising Processes
- Discount Policy
- Food and Drink Policy
Essential Wizards Play Network Knowledge
When you hire a new team member representing Magic at your store, they should review the Orientation material. Here are what we consider the essential resources for them.
- Understand Wizards Accounts. Train your team on how to register for a Wizards Account and how to help new customers register for accounts as well.
- Understand EventLink. Train your team on the EventLink software and give them their own login credentials. Let them know they can contact their Retail Support team for additional guidance.
- How to Run Efficient Demos. Train your team on Welcome Boosters and how to organize a live demo.
- Product Pathing. Your staff is on the front lines of product sales. Help them be more efficient at selling Magic. Put a stronger emphasis on enhancing the new player experience, as new players are the ones who ask the most questions.
- Additional WPN Educational Material is Available. If you have additional training needs for staff unfamiliar with Magic, please contact your Retail Development Specialist to come up with a strategy.
Code of Conduct and Inclusivity
You want to control the atmosphere in your store as much as you can, and a written and posted Code of Conduct supports this goal in several ways.
- It helps parents feel more at ease when leaving their children at your store.
- It allows players to self-police their own behavior and support them when standing up to others.
- It allows you to clearly communicate your store’s values to new players and customers.
Creating your own Code of Conduct
Verbal codes of conduct do not have the same impact as those that are visibly posted in common areas in the store. We recommend that you create your own code of conduct to suit your store’s needs and personality. This is one of the easiest ways to clearly demonstrate your store’s unique brand. For example, if you have a store mascot, the code of conduct could be in their voice.
We encourage you to borrow from the key elements of common codes of conduct below and make it your own!
- Everyone is welcome.
- Keep it clean, physically and verbally.
- Follow event, game, and store rules.
- Offensive imagery is not allowed.
- Keep it friendly, respectful, and fun.
Safeguarding an Inclusive Environment
Creating a safe and welcoming environment for all customers is critical to expanding your player base.
Wizards of the Coast values inclusivity and diversity in our communities. Stores believed to be encouraging or allowing discrimination may be subject to WPN investigation and face program penalties including termination from the WPN.
- Ban discriminatory language and profanity. This is especially true of your staff. Wherever possible, you should try to discourage this behavior in players. Offensive language is a sure way to make new customers feel uncomfortable.
- • Don’t tolerate bullying. Your players want to come to your business because they want a safe, friendly place to play. Players want to feel like they are welcome and free to have fun in your store. Not addressing bullying can also create the appearance of unfairness.
- Practice conflict resolution. Be prepared with practiced responses to handle customers who violate your code of conduct. How do you respond to offensive or discriminatory language? How do you respond to violence or bullying? Use direct language and don’t apologize for pulling customers aside to talk with them about their problematic behaviors.
- Proactively stop bad behavior. The presence of a single person who uses discriminatory language or regularly violates your code of conduct can normalize that behavior among other members of your store.
- Be aware of the impact that intoxicated individuals have in your store. The presence of intoxicated players can lead to conflict or cause some of your customers (or their parents) to be uncomfortable. We encourage stores to create environments where both children and parents can be comfortable. (Especially true for establishments that also sell alcohol.)
Opening Up Your Community
These tactics may help lower barriers to entry and ensure everyone has a comfortable and fun place to play.
- Keep casual events casual. Encourage new players to interact with their community in a low-pressure environment. Find ways to direct players to events that suit their skill level.
- Identify mentors. In casual events, try to mix newer players with people who are willing to give them a good experience.
- Engage with new players. Staff should actively engage with all new customers/players to make them feel welcome. Try to help new players mix with the community by introducing them to your regulars.
- Encourage diversity. A diverse staff may help to attract a diverse player base.
WPN Premium is a public recognition of the best game stores in the world, which apply many of the learnings you’ve read in these WPN Orientation articles. Premium stores offer world-class experiences to their customers and players, and we encourage all stores in the WPN to use them as a model.
Even if you’re a new store, you can apply most of the WPN Premium Quality Checklist to your business. It is useful to evaluate your store’s aesthetics as well as the quality of your customer service. Check your store against this checklist and discover new opportunities for improvement in your business.
WPN Premium Quality Checklist
In addition to the checklist, we recommend a few additional elements to many would-be Premium stores.
- Highlight your brand. Use your store’s logo wherever possible. On loyalty cards, on store rules signage, on your code of conduct, on stickers. Your store’s personality should be visible, so look around and see if the brands you sell are speaking louder than your store’s brand.
- Pay attention to detail. Are your posters hanging up with tape? Are your storage boxes old and damaged? Are there areas in your store in slight disrepair? Take the time to make everything in your store look intentional and control the first impression your customers have when they first visit.
- Set goals for yourself. Outline what you want your store to become, and check against your goals at regular intervals. You can get in touch with your regional WPN specialist for an outside perspective, and we may be able to share some ideas with you.
Reflect on the ways your store and your staff create memorable experiences for your customers at every interaction and every event. Here are our top talking points.
- Always be improving. Identify areas of your store that can be adjusted to better serve your customer's needs.
- Have a training plan. Have a method to train new employees to provide a great and consistent customer experience.
- Have a code of conduct. Set proper expectations amongst your community to allow a friendlier and more inclusive atmosphere.
For more customized training on any of the above topics, please contact your WPN Retail Development Specialist for information.