of a master salesperson
arena of retail, there are single-location retailers, retailers that
have multiple locations, and chain stores, each competing for the
dollar of the consumer. The usual question is, "How does the
neighborhood store compete?" Rarely does the single location
or multiple location neighborhood store have the best location, the
larger business, or the support from a corporation that can provide much of the advertising
and merchandising support and research that is crucial to a business. For most neighborhood retailers, the opportunity to be
the number-one retailer within a trade area is not often found.
store, whether it is a discount, warehouse, big-box store, or simply
a "known-name" store, has taken that position in most markets.
Too often, when visiting with these neighborhood retailers, we hear
comments that indicate acceptance of being an "also-ran,"
or being relegated to receiving sales that are left over from the
competition. These "leftover" sales come from customers
that are simply loyal, dislike a chain store, or find the neighborhood
business to be more convenient.
I had the occasion to travel through town on one of the major downtown
streets. I had purchased a car that was equipped with a compact disc
player. Now without a tape player in the new car, my favorite cassette
tapes were relegated to home.
a single location store that in previous years had done quite a bit
of advertising. I went into the store and found my way to the type
of music I was looking for. I noticed there were two people who worked
in the store, but I don't think they noticed me even though I was
the only customer in the building. Even when I had made my choice
of one compact disc, I had to walk to the back of the store to get
you want me to ring that up for you?" one of them asked. Other
than telling me the amount of the purchase, those were the only words
from either of the employees. As I drove down the same street, I saw
a second store. I decided to stop and see what they had to offer.
When I walked into the small store, one person who was stocking the
bins looked at me and said hello.
looked through the selection and wandered from aisle to aisle, I was
approached by one of the employees. "What type of music do you
like?" was the question asked of me. And upon giving an answer,
I was engaged in a conversation about music - my kind of music.
a few minutes, this salesperson showed the rarest, yet most powerful
techniques for marketing a business: "My name is Walt. I own
this shop, and this is John, my store manager." Has this ever
happened to you? If you are like most of us, having a person take
the time to introduce himself or herself to you is quite rare.
Just as there are two types of stores - those that have the name,
location, and image, and those that do not - there are those that
have the advantage of exceptional customer service and those that
do not. Within the stores that have the customer service advantage,
you can find sales help who give quality and friendly service. Within
those who have this rare and most desired customer service trait,
you will find a manager or an owner who loves his or her job and customers.
is the secret? The first part is being able to love what you do. The
second aspect of the customer service secret is to have employees
who want to share that same type of customer service enjoyment. The
third ingredient is that there is an ongoing education program so
that all of the employees are able to offer knowledge and assistance
to the customers. The final ingredient is incentive. Each successful
business needs a system of rewarding its employees. It can be through
monetary means as well as recognition. The key is that the business
shows its appreciation to those receiving the recognition in front
of employees not receiving recognition, as well as letting the customers
know superb salesmanship is rewarded. I am sure Walt loves what he
is doing. He has been at it for years; and observing his employees,
you can tell he has done a great job with the other three secrets.
No favorable location, advertising, or image can ever match his efforts.