Your business can update, optimize and maximize all the marketing channels available. You could have a substantial marketing budget, spend it well and succeed at drawing in both new and repeat customers and still lose sales due to one basic shortfall.
During a trip to California I was looking to purchase a wetsuit for my son. I was excited to see some of the big surf shops. The first shop was HUGE, I probably strolled the better part of a city block through general clothing, skateboards, shoes, sandals, surf and finally to wetsuits. In that space I may have passed 3 unoccupied staff. I then spent the next 10 minutes casually looking through junior wetsuit rack, hoping for help and watching 3 or 4 staff wandered by.
Now you may be thinking the staff could see I was a pasty white middle aged Canadian wearing a hockey jersey, speedo, black socks and sandals. That is not even close, I had white socks on. But isn’t what a customer looks like irrelevant. What is very relevant is that if your staff engages in purchaser profiling it drops your potential sales by a significant amount. I realize it has been said over and over and over and over that “everyone that walks in the door is a potential customer” but that was not my experience. What struck me was how overlooked and unappreciated I felt. It could be my reaction from the years I spent greeting every customer that walked into my board shop. I wanted to scream out “hello here I am by the wetsuit rack and I would like one of you to tear yourself from that very important job of putting price tags on that new stock or playing solitaire on the till computer” I wanted to bat a couple of them over the head with the hockey stick I was carrying (I am Canadian!!!!). However I restrained myself and walked out completely amazed by what I had just experienced. I pondered was it just a random occurrence, a bad day for the shop or did my Cloak of Invisibility(TM) actually work.
So I headed down the street to a somewhat smaller Surf Shop. I hoped that this would solve the problem, as I would get the superior customer service that smaller shops a famous for. Remember all the experts who drone on about how a small retailer can compete with big box stores by offering knowledge and personal service. I stopped into Starbucks for a quad espresso over ice. I figured if they couldn’t see me at least they might smell the coffee. In I walked and wow there was a rack of junior wetsuits. The sales staff was tantalizingly close, so very close, but still I remained invisible. With wetsuit in hand I wandered over to ask about a different size, obviously interrupting some especially deep world changing debate. I asked my question, they spun the wheel of random answers and gave me one so I wandered back to the rack and decided to try the wetsuits on my son. I picked up 2 wetsuits and headed toward a change room and guess what, suddenly I was on their radar. A staff member asked me “would you like to get that?”. I answered “of course, how foolish of me I must have confused the change rooms for the sales desk and I do need 2 wetsuits that I haven’t tried on this kid standing right beside me already half undressed.” So he graciously unlocked the change room and wander off to buy something on E-Bay with the commission he was about to earn. This is all I could figure as he certainly not there to answer any of my questions or get us a different size. The wetsuit didn’t fit properly so we left.
Now here is the part I was ashamed about at first. However, confession is the first step to healing. I then drove to one of those chain board shops and horror of horrors it was in a outlet mall (I wore a disguise). Now I have been critical over the years of this type of retailer. But they had the one thing I desperately needed and that was HELP! As I entered the store every staff member I passed greeted me. I had a helpful staff member quickly approach me at the wetsuit rack. When he couldn’t find the size I needed he suggested he could phone the next closest store. Sure enough they had the size and he said could have it in by Tuesday. When we explained that we were there on vacation the manager said “he could get one of the employees from the other store drop it off on their way home from work and he would have it here by 5pm that day.” They did and I bought it. I was as happy customer. custom logo dress socks