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Lottery Sales Are Ticket to Success, Retailers Told in Training Sessions

Times Staff Writer

As motivational sales meetings go, it wasn’t much--no group cheers, only the mildest exhortations, just a scratchy recording of the new product’s jingle.

But for San Diego area retailers selected to sell tickets for the Oct. 3 debut of the California Lottery, the training session Wednesday in a chandelier-lit ballroom of the Holiday Inn at the Embarcadero was a first chance to examine the inner workings of the long-awaited game.

An hourlong slide presentation told the retailers--from about 70 of the 1,600 outlets that will sell the $1 tickets in San Diego and Imperial counties--that lottery tickets are “a hot product.”

The tickets, the slide program assured, “are easy to sell,” particularly if retailers follow “Two Formulas for Success:”

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“Availability + Convenience = Sales.

“Visibility + Suggestion = Impulse Sales.”

“It’s a very simple operation and a very simple way to win,” said Herman Dustman, the lottery sales representative who conducted the training session. “In essence, what could happen to a person is they could spend $1 and win $2 million.”

That brought a murmur from the otherwise quiet but attentive audience at one of the three daily training sessions scheduled by lottery officials in San Diego. The sessions will continue through next week.

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Marc and Nadine Shaddow, who own a gas station and convenience store in Escondido, did not need a formal program to build enthusiasm for the lottery. Marc used to spend $50 to $100 a week on lottery tickets when the couple lived in New York, and they expect that having the tickets on hand will add significantly to the 2,000 to 3,000 customers they serve daily.

“It’s fun. It’s gambling,” Nadine added. “It gives the poor guy something to look forward to.”

Simple as the game may be for players, there is a lot for retailers to learn before the lottery gets under way:

- The system for ordering tickets.

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Retailers, Dustman explained, will order tickets by phone, and a courier company will deliver the orders. A week later, the state will automatically deduct the cost of the tickets from the retailer’s bank account through an electronic fund transfer.

- The recommended way to sell the tickets, which come in perforated strips of 500 and are numbered 1 to 500

Sell them in numerical order, Dustman said.

“If you have a regular customer who says, ‘My lucky number is 345' and you’re selling No. 3, don’t tear them apart,” he said. “Sell them in order. It will just cause aggravation.”

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Numbers on the tickets are for administrative purposes only. The game is won by finding three matching dollar figures by rubbing off the laminated jackpots on the ticket.

- The wholesale cost of the tickets.

At $1 apiece, a pack of 500 tickets will retail for $500, but vendors will pay the state just $345 per pack--or 69 cents per ticket, Dustman said.

The reason retailers will pay less than the face amount is because they will be allowed to deduct $25 off the tab per pack of 500 tickets as their profit--5 cents per ticket. They will also deduct an additional $130--the guaranteed payout to people winning $2 and $5 instant prizes among every 500 tickets sold.

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- The question of what to do when a customer has a winning ticket.

Retailers will pay off $2 and $5 winners, Dustman said. But the retailers will give forms to winners of $100, $500, $1,000 and $5,000 prizes to send to Sacramento along with their winning tickets. Those winners will receive their earnings by return mail.

Retail outlets will not have to collect tax on ticket sales, the trainees were told, and they may accept payment by credit card or check if they wish. Unsold tickets are to be returned to the state for a full refund. To help retailers decide how many tickets to order, telephone marketing representatives will have demographic sales data from other states already operating lotteries.

Each ticket must be stamped with a number assigned to the outlet, Dustman said; the state will provide the first rubber stamp free.

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It all seemed a little puzzling to Estella Wu and Diana Kuei of China City, an Escondido restaurant selected by the state as a ticket outlet. They were undecided about undertaking the sales assignment.

“We have to think about it,” Wu said after the training session. “There are so many rules and so much work.”

Gary Tucker, owner of a 7-Eleven convenience store in Encinitas, had no qualms about the complexities of the lottery. But he wasn’t especially enamored with the idea of selling the tickets, either.

“I felt it was kind of a must-have item,” he said. “If everybody’s going to have it, we had to have it.”

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And how, you’re wondering, does the jingle go?

It’s a sassy, brassy arrangement, one of several that will be associated with the lottery in advertising and promotions. The lyric:

“It’s a good feelin’, for a lot of good reasons--the California Lottery.”


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