IT is now appropriate to touch briefly on one or two aspects of corset department management which must concern the corset fitter when she is entrusted with the lead in her department.
One of the most valuable means of cultivating personal relations with customers and building good will for a corset department is the customer-record, of which mention has been made in Chapter III, "Service in the Modern Store."
In many well managed corset departments, a book is used for the record of names, addresses, measurements, and details of purchases of each customer who has a fitting, and such a book record is better than nothing.
Much more quickly referred to, and much simpler to handle, however, is a card index, with a card for each fitted customer. A typical corset department card is shown on page 104.
Such an index can provide at a glance the complete record of a customer's contacts with the department, and the intelligent fitter will not be slow to make use of the information so quickly available to her. The card can be referred to at the counter as soon as the customer has given her name, and then (unlike a book, which another fitter may be using at the time) can be abstracted from the file and taken to the fitting room so that the fitter may add details of the new fitting. She can write down the customer's measurements against the new date on the card as she actually takes them, and can fill in the rest of the information on the completion of the sale, before she puts the card back in its alphabetical place in the file.
To have a record of this kind is not only a help to the fitter, who can see in a moment the kind of garment the customer has been accustomed to wear, and the level of price of former purchases; it also builds great confidence in the customer's mind that the department is efficient and, what is more, takes a precise concern in her own personal requirements.
|Name: Mrs. M. Smith,
Address: 38, Albion Road, West Bromwich.
|1/1/47||Bust 36 in.
Waist 28 in.
Hips 38 in.
|A. Biggs||47/6d.||Front suspenders shortened.|
|6/6/48||Bust 37 in.
Waist 29 in.
Hips 40 in.
|D. Jones||52/6d.||Tuck under each arm.|
It is good modern practice, in advertising the corset department, to stress the fitting service rather than any particular line of goods. The goods may have no more than a temporary sales appeal, whereas the fitting service goes on steadily all the time and interests every type of customer. Besides, many a woman attracted by an advertisement of a particular garment may insist upon having it even though the fitter advises that it is unsuitable for her, and then may forget her own insistence and remember only that the garment was unsatisfactory.
Too few advertising specialists really appreciate the intimate and rewarding work that goes on in the corset fitting rooms. It is the corset fitter's job to see that, when they are advertising her department, they do know about the highly personal and valuable service given there. This service is as much a part of the department's stock-intrade as is the merchandise itself, and women shoppers will always respond well to reminders of the fact.
The importance of featuring the fitting service should be clearly conveyed also to the display man. Window displays for the corset department are all too often mere three-dimensional catalogues. They convey, in fact, even less information than a catalogue about the suitability of any garment for a particular figure. A more profitable type of display is one that indicates the fitting service offered by the department and endeavours to impress women with the value of the expert advice, skilled fitting, and personal attention upon which they may call.
An invitation to come in and be fitted, photographs of the comfortable accommodation available, and notices about the qualifications of the staff will all help to promote interest and confidence. The more direct appeal of attractive garments may then be added to the broad general assurance of competence.
Display figures have considerable value to a corset department, but a word of warning here may save some disappointment in using them. If dressed in actual garments, the figures should be obtained already dressed from the manufacturer. They usually require garments made specially to fit them, and really need the most skilful fitting if they are to look satisfactory and attractive. Because of the shortage of materials and labour, and because of the smaller window spaces available during the nineteen-forties, life-size models showing actual garments tend to have been replaced by miniatures, about half the natural size, with a garment modelled upon them as an integral part of the figure. Such models, which can look exceedingly attractive and neat, have probably come to stay in corset display, and provide an excellent background demonstration to a show of actual garments displayed flat.
One of the most important advantages of a quick diagnosis of customers' figure types and sizes by the fitter is that fewer garments need to be tried on before a sale. Each putting on and taking off of a corset affects its fresh unfolded newness, and the fewer times it is tried on without being sold, the better. Some trying on without sale is inevitable, however.
The fitter should therefore study the way in which the manufacturer has folded the garment, and should refold it carefully in the same manner before she puts it back in its box. The tidy fitter who values her stock will put each garment back in its own box as she rejects it; and such a practice has the additional virtue of ensuring that garments do get back into their right boxes.
Boxes, as well as garments, are apt to become soiled or faded, and nothing destroys a garment's chances of sale so much as being in a box which looks old. A stock of clean label ends is a good provision for keeping a clean, fresh appearance in the shop fixtures.
Stock should, of course, be kept in classified order. Some shops keep stock in figure-type groups as well as in sizes, and this is an ideal method where the stock is sufficiently large.
The size of reserve stocks varies, but a good buyer generally keeps a steady reserve of known good sellers and fills it up as new stock arrives from the suppliers.
Most buyers like to maintain a very wide range of fittings and sizes, but they are always liable to be confronted by the "odd" figure for which there seems to be no suitable corset in the stock. Where a figure is really impossible to fit from ordinary stock, it is wise to admit the fact and recommend a special making. As corset manufacturers with big plants are really quite unable to cope with such specials, it generally pays to advise the customer to consult a private corsetiere.
Where the corset department is near to the gown department, ; co-operation between the two is often of considerable mutual aid: The problem of the "difficult-to-fit" woman is often solved for the , gown saleswoman at the outset if she can introduce a corset fitter and ensure that the figure is right before the gown is fitted. Some stores use a commission incentive to stimulate "selling through," but nowadays co-operation of this nature is becoming the rule. Undoubtedly it brings benefits to gown department, corset department, and customer in equal measure.