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Jack's phone call technique

Calling to ask for additional business

Jack Rice, my friend and fellow speaker/trainer, would tell the story of the appliance business he and his father owned. In addition to the training any new employee would receive upon joining their store, the Rice family business gave each the same assignment.

A printout of the list of every customer was given to the new employee. The first assignment was to remove the names of any customer having done business with the store in the past six months. Having only those that had not bought a product or needed service, the employee was assigned the task of contacting ten of these previous customers each day.

There would be days more customers would be contacted, as well as those on which no one was contacted. But, the goal was to average 50 calls each week. Greet and assist the customers that came in or called, learn more about the products and services offered, and make 10 phone calls; we would all agree on the necessity of the first two assignments, but why the third aspect?

Jack's answer was most interesting. It will perhaps provide you with an idea that you may want to implement as a part of your business. While the appliance business is different from the power equipment business, they are similar in that most dealers believe customers come in, or call, only when they are in need of service, or the need of purchasing something new.

The first part of the answer was that this much phone practice will surely improve the phone skills of the salesperson. Is that important? Just call four or five of your competitors, both independents and box stores, and see how you are treated. Unfortunately, in calling many of the dealers today, you may agree it will not be very difficult to assist your customers on the phone in a more professional manner that will differentiate you from the competition.

The statistical results from the efforts of Jack's employees are even more stunning. Of the phone calls made over a two week period, if your results are like Jack's, you will find 40% to 55% of the former customers telling your new employee they just have not needed any of your products or services during this time.

Surely, every successful business is keeping up with the changing retail market. In the case of Jack's appliance business, there are constantly new products being added. Do you have exactly the same products and services you sold six months ago? If not, this is the perfect time to tell your customer, or send to the customer information about your business. Of these 40 to 55 customers, 12 will be in your business within the next 10 days. Jack said that as they greeted these customers arriving in their store that their explanation was that they just hadn't needed anything lately and that the call from Jack's salesperson had come at the time they were thinking about buying something new.

The same could be said for a business in the power equipment trade. We do not know when our customers are beginning to think about making a purchase. We do not know when our customers are open to the idea of preventive maintenance. And we do not know when our customers are making the decision as to what dealership to take their equipment for that necessary repair.

Think about your advertising efforts. Have you ever ran an advertisement to which you received no response? Did you feel this was a waste of money? It may have been that you were advertising service when they were looking for new equipment, or vise versa.

Yet, if you tried Jack's technique your expense is the time of the employee that most likely would have otherwise been unproductive. And the phone call does a better job than the advertising in that it performs the ultimate task - it places the name of your shop in the mind of the customer at the moment of that important decision - where to do business.

One other statistic, of the phone calls made during the two weeks, Jack's employees found 2 customers stating they had been unhappy with the product or service they received. Can these customers be satisfied, and their business regained? Perhaps, but without the phone calls you would never know of the problem or opportunity to gain one back.

Of course, it all starts with your having kept track of your customers. Studies have shown it takes $20 to obtain a new customer, yet only $4 to keep a customer that has previously done business with you. As for traditional advertising, newsletters and direct mail pieces sent to your current lists of customers are two of the most effective methods of capitalizing on this cost saving method of advertising and promoting your business.

The underlying philosophy is to never forget a customer, and never let a customer forget you. And, don't forget to call 'em up. Jack Rice and I say it works.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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