Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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Are they ever coming back?

Establishing a Strategy for Customer Retention

Think about a customer that has come into your business looking to make a purchase. Whatever the scenario, someone has crossed the threshold and is now considering making a purchase.

Our interest and discussion point today is to ask what can you do to increase the odds that the person will come back. And in doing so, we may surprise you by showing how you can be proactive instead of leaving it up to chance.

The problem that you are wanting to overcome is the statistic that shows over 80% of the buying public cannot distinguish one business from another. Want proof? Think about how many times someone has come into your business, selected an item, and then asked, "Who do I make this check payable to?"

You may think this is a customer that is pretty dumb to not know where they are. Actually, the situation is that the business has not made enough of an impression so that the customer would make an effort to observe and remember the name of the business.

In getting the attention of a customer, it actually begins long before they ever come inside. If you are a free standing business, or one in a strip center, you can begin your efforts by making sure there are easy to see stripes on the parking lot. As customers walk toward your business, how well lit is the parking lot and front of your business? Are there signs on the outside that would peak their interest? Can they hear music as they approach the business?

Each of these concerns, handled successfully, add to the likelihood that the customer will return to you again. Statistically, it has been shown that over half of the customers are making up their mind based upon their experience from the time they enter the parking lot to the first 15 seconds in your business.

Once they are inside, is there an area where they can stand, look around without feeling they are in the way of someone? Can they get a feel for your business? Can they easily determine who are the employees and who are the customers, in the event they would like to ask questions?

As they move about the business, are they drawn from one area to another by way of an attractive display that is well lit? The customer should be drawn to move about the business, much like that stainless steel marble can move slowly about in a pin ball machine. Is that customer being exposed to all areas of the merchandise within the store?

When someone does speak to them, do they hear, like they hear in that 80% plus group of stores a "Can I help you?" Or do they have someone who says "hello", "welcome", or "I'm glad you came in today"?

As they converse with the salesperson, is the customer asking all of the questions? This indicates the customer is controlling the situation. If instead the salesperson is asking the questions, they are in control. By asking brief questions, and then listening to what the customer says, we learn more. And as they are listening to the answers given by the customer, the salesperson is narrowing in on which product or products best meets the needs of the customer.

Think about a customer coming into the store and asking for an item. Does the salesperson point to the location of the item or do they walk the customer to the merchandise?

Of course, the better than average salesperson could ask a couple of questions. They might ask about what stick the customer has previously owned or what has peaked their interest. With a situation such as this, our salesperson is likely to be making some suggestions with regard to which stick the person should purchase.

At this point, we know that we have definitely eliminated the majority of retailers with regard to customer service. It is now that we enter that rare space where few businesses venture. Getting the merchandise in the customer’s hands has been shown to increase sales by approximately 19%. All that is required is simply offering to let the customer hold the item.

And in the appropriate situation the salesperson asks, "Is one enough? Or would two be better?" About 14% of the time the customer will decide to take a second.

You may think this is the cream of the crop. But there is another step that can be added. As the sale is completed, what if the salesperson were to say, "Every so often we have a demonstration given by someone from one of our manufacturers. I would be glad to send you an invitation if you would provide me with your name and address".

And in sending the invitation, you can probably get the manufacturer to pay for the postcard you would send.  For you see, this retailer understands it is not enough just to have an add on sale. If the retailer can do things which help to grow that customer's interest in their products, this customer is going to return to make more purchases - not only for more, but for better and more expensive items and accessories as they have been engaged by the salesperson.

Are they ever coming back? That depends on you.

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