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The Opposite of NO

Ideas for increasing customer loyalty

There used to be a series of public service announcements directed at children and youth. While the intention was to steer them away from drugs and alcohol, there was a phrase that was the central theme of these announcements of "Just say no."

While I don't know how well the phrase worked as a result of these announcements, I do know it works too often in the pool and spa business. A customer calls, or comes into a store, and asks for a particular product, part, or service. There is the positive answer of, "Yes, we can", or "Yes, we have it". Independent stores, as well as chain and warehouse stores all use this answer.

Then there is the opposite response of "no", which is too often heard. This too can be heard in the chain or warehouse stores. However, it is not what is heard in the store that knows how to take care of their customers. This is not a column that makes a stand for you to expand your business to provide every service imaginable, or to stock every possible brand and type of product. It is, however, an argument for the opportunity to provide extreme customer service and wrap up a tremendous share of the pool chemical, spa chemical and service business within your community.

We take, as an example, the dealer who has posters displayed about the time clock, in the office, and in the back room of his business that proclaims, "No is not an option." To back up this statement, the dealer has done several things.

The first is to educate his staff that the answer to the question about a product is always, "Yes, we have it", "Why have you chosen that particular product?" or "How soon do you need it?"

With the first answer, he simply makes the sale. With the question of why, the customer usually explains their preference for that product. There is an effort by the team member to equate the quality of the product they stock with the product the customer has requested. But without letting the customer walk away, the team member will move to the question of when. The second thing the dealer has done is to have a charge account with most all of his competitors. When the situation calls for the question of 'when' to be asked, his staff will send someone to the competition to purchase the product and return with it to their store. They remove the price sticker of the competitor, and then charge their customer the same price as the competitor.

It did take a while for customers to find out why he always had what they needed, but it quickly became their best promotion to be able to tell customers they would not let them down. As for a service, they simply had built a file of pool servicing technicians and pool builders who could respond to any type of question. The dealer was as close to being a "one stop pool store" as there could be. Building on this reputation, the store began a second promotion, which they called, "drop and drive". Their pool chemical supplier had provided them with a software program that not only provided analysis, but also would track the purchases and service calls of customers.

With the drop and drive promotion, all a customer had to do on their way to work was to write their account number on the side of the water bottle which the dealer provided, and then drop the bottle at the dealer. They even had a drop slot much like the video stores utilize.

During the slack time of the day, each sample bottle was fully analyzed. The empty bottle, detailed instructions, two copies of a list of products, and the appropriate chemicals were put into a tray for the customer to pick up at the end of the day.

The idea of the account number made it appear to the customer that the service was very easy to use. It was however, the dealer's way of making sure the customers who used the service were buying chemicals from him and not taking the information to a competitor. While the team members were always ready to answer questions when the person came in to pick up their results, the idea of the duplicate form was a way of confirming the customer had bought the suggested products. Of course, as any dealer would expect, there was the occasional customer who had to be told this service was free as long as there were products being purchased from him. Without a purchase, the water analysis and report were $10.

Most of this latter group of customers got the message, with a few refusing to pay and deciding to shop elsewhere. This was ok with the dealer as obviously this was not his customer anyway. There is an old adage of, "A dog with a full food bowl does not go looking at other food bowls". The customer who is able to get all of his products, and services, with one call or one stop, is not likely to go looking at the competition.

While dogs are noted for being extremely loyal, people can and will be the same way. Your chances of finding this type of customer increases tremendously if you know there is no NO!

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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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PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179