by Jennifer Collins
Everyone knows that annoying feeling when a store employee constantly pesters you to apply for a store credit card. What is that one question you dread to hear? Suddenly you hear the overly sweet voice ask, “Did you know you could save 15% today by simply applying for an in-store credit card?”
It’s an annoying question. Logically, you know they are obligated to ask you. Knowing they are obligated to ask doesn’t make you less frustrated that they do ask though. Let me tell you a secret. We hate asking you if you would like to apply for an in-store credit card. It seems like 99.9% of people turn us down, and they may even be grumpy about it.
Speaking as a person who once worked in the J. C. Penney shoe department, it is possible to get gullible customers to apply for the interest-heavy card, and there are perks for the sales associate such as a “jeans day” (a day where you can dress down from dresses, skirts, and slacks to nice denim pants) and a possible commission. I received a $2 commission for every approved credit card application I had. I remember when the manager over my entire store came down to shake my hand because they had never had so many credit card applications from any associate in the shoe department. There are things you can do to get people to apply. Here are my tips to ensure an application.
1. Call up all of your friends who are about to turn 18 or who have recently turned 18. Why do I say this? Mostly because 18-year-olds are gullible; they want the freedom to be an adult and a store credit card seems like a harmless idea. They want to help out a friend who needs to meet a quota of applications in order to not have to dress in business casual (not black tie or formal, but nice slacks, dresses, skirts, the torturous panty hose) on a Chief’s game Sunday. Also, you can fill in their information from over the phone because they do not actually need to be present to apply. Warn them about the interest, warn them to pay it off the first month…Don’t just let them sign up without telling them that spending more than they have will add up and possibly hurt their credit when they are older.
2. Use a southern accent when you ask.
For some reason, unknown to me, I have found that people are more likely to respond positively if you use a southern accent. Maybe they think you are legitimately new to the area and want to help a girl out. Maybe you just sound charming. I do not know why maybe it is the drawled out “y’alls” but people like a good southern accent. Personally, I find southern accents to be comforting, the long, drawn out words, like trying to pour molasses or honey.
3. Explain why you need the applications.
I found that people were incredibly understanding of my honesty. They seemed to understand that I really wanted to wear denim to work, and they were more likely to apply than if I were pushy. Only do this if you are getting closer to your deadline.
4. Don’t waste time on couples.
I had more trouble getting couples to apply than I did with the single shopper (specifically women). Men are more likely to say no. NEVER try to flirt your way into getting an application, there are creepy people out in this world and you do not want to find yourself with a new, overly friendly, stalker.
5. Always be respectful.
Sure it is common sense, but do not forget your “Yes, sirs” or “Yes, ma’ams”. Respect shows that you value your customer and they can hear that in the way you address them, speak to them, AND IN YOUR BODY LANGUAGE.
6. LAST RESORT: Offer an additional discount.
You can tell the person is iffy, you can tell they want the discount but are about to say no. Tell them you will give them your associate discount of however many percent off. I remember a middle-aged woman shopping alone, I could see she was thinking it over really well but was about to say no. I offered my associate discount of 25% instead of the 15% if she’d apply and I had her hook, line, and sinker. I rang up her purchase under a different associate’s name for the commission on the sale, which was less than a dollar compared to my $2 commission. I know that sounded a little shady but due to the fact that I didn’t take credit for the sale of the shoes it was mostly ethical if not completely ethical (at least I was not talked to or fired over it). It sounds like only a little difference but when you are making 25 cents per pair of shoes sold versus a $2 credit card commission it does add up in your favor.
Getting someone to apply for a credit card is NOT rocket science, but it does take people skills and knowing your target audience; your targets are people who do not realize how sky-high the interest rate on the card is. Generally you give your customer a brochure which outlines the interest rate and other necessary items, but you may want to remind them that it is better to pay it off the first month before the store starts tacking on interest. Some stores even allow you to pay off the card at the register immediately following the purchase.