Selling Made To Measure Suits And Shirts
Firstly, here are some acronyms you might want to know about -
MTM - Made to Measure
RTW - Ready to Wear
CM - Custom Made
CMT - Cut Make Trim
Selling MTM clothing is no different from selling any other type of clothing. You identify a need, and you present the customer with options that fill his need. Once you appreciate this simple fact, you’ll come to realize how appealing and lucrative selling MTM can be. As a result, you’ll end up selling it to your customer more convincingly as well.
One of the things that makes selling MTM easier for salespeople is that you don’t have to work around any sizing or style restrictions, since any garment can be styled as the customer desires, and fit to his size. Essentially, every fabric you show them is “his size”, and preferred style. What could be easier?
Does this mean that every customer walking through the door should now be sold a MTM suit? Of course not: you likely have inventory that you need to sell as well. However, if you see a customer walking out empty-handed after perusing your selection, you should be right in there letting him know about your “other selection” of merchandise that you have to offer. It is merchandise, and when presented with enthusiasm, a simple fabric can seem more interesting to a customer than a similar fabric that he just passed by on the rack, simply because it would be made just for him.
Here are two ways to determine whether selling MTM to this customer is going to be easy, or whether you will need to pay extra attention to his unique measurements:
1. First off, look at his overall physique. Does he look like he has any physical characteristics that could cause a suit to fit poorly? A very athletic build, for instance, would cause his pant waist to be much smaller than his chest. Or does he have very high shoulders causing a large roll under the collar, or an extremely stooping posture that would throw the balance of the coat way out of whack? If he doesn’t, it’s likely that he won’t be too difficult to achieve a good fit with. You should have very good odds of delivering a suit that will likely need minor alterations, if any.
If the customer does look like he has any obvious fitting challenges, the fact that they are obvious already tells you what you need to do. If it’s not obvious, it’s probably because he doesn’t need the alteration. If you’re unsure, err on the side of * NOT* doing an alteration, since it’s likely he doesn’t really need it, or only a small amount which may not even show itself in the fit.
2. Ask the customer what observations he’s made when he tries on garments off the rack. If he consistently sees the same symptoms when he buys suits (like a roll under the collar), he will know and can tell you, making your job easier. If he always sees the symptom, this gives you an indication that he requires a fair amount of the particular alteration. Stay away from asking for more than a 1” alteration for any posture-related fitting challenge. When it comes to posture-related alterations, a good rule to work by is that
¼” is a little
½” is a fair bit
¾” is quite a lot
1” is the maximum.
If you’ve determined that the customer is going to be a tough fit, don’t be nervous. The fact that you have been able to identify where the challenges are means that you already have a head start. Take his body measurements exactly the same way you would if he was easy to fit. Don’t try to second-guess your measurements, and most importantly…
DON’T CHANGE YOUR MIND AND YOUR MEASUREMENTS.
If you do change your mind, perhaps make a note of it on the back of the order, and see if you learn a lesson when the garment comes in. You’ll find most times that you’ll deliver the garment perfectly fine with your first measurements.
The fact is, it’s very difficult to measure a person consistently with a fiberglass (standard old-fashioned) tape measure. Even the most skilled tailors could measure the same man 10 times, and get at least 8 different variations. The good news is that there is a lot of forgiveness in our business. We’re cutting fabric, not steel. It certainly is important to do a good job and always strive for accuracy with your measurements, but where you’ll do best is * NOT* to exaggerate your alterations. Keep it simple.
Other selling tips
- When a customer walks in the suit department, break the ice with a question like “are you usually a good fit off the rack?” He’ll then tell you his “history” of trial and error fittings, or tell you whether he can usually buy off the rack easily. If he’s a tough fit, say something like “that’s great, you’re at the right place to get a great MTM suit”. If he’s an easy fit, you can sell him something off the rack (you’re allowed to do that once in a while too), or sell him a MTM anyway and the fitting part should be a breeze.
- One of the keys to selling Made-to-Measure clothing successfully is to fit the customer’s mind. This doesn’t mean hypnotizing him into believing his suit fits. It means building the customer’s confidence right from the start of the sales presentation, so he feels comfortable that you offer good odds that he’ll receive a fit worthy of his personal standards. You achieve this by following a systematic approach with confidence, rather than working “off the cuff” and hoping for the best results.
- Sell with confidence. If the garment you deliver requires alterations, deal with it as a matter of course, rather than presenting it as a problem to the customer.
- Ask questions about his previous favorite cloths. Most people have had a favorite suit at least once, for whatever reason. Quite often, it was the cloth. If you can get him telling you what he likes, you can target your fabric selection. Most people will buy more of what they like if you can offer variety. That’s hard to do off the rack. With MTM it’s a breeze.
- Ask questions about his lifestyle. Does he travel often? If so, is he in hot and humid places often? This will help you select fabrics that are more suitable to the climate the garments will be worn in. There’s no point selling a guy a cashmere sport coat if he’ll be spending most of his time working in New Orleans.
- From I Love MTM
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