Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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The Master's Technique

Observations of a master salesperson

In every 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.

The chain 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.

Recently, 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.

I remembered 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 their attention.

"Do 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.

As I 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.

Within 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.

So, what 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.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars, Profits Plus Solutions coaching, books authored, and articles written. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his web site:

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