Customers want to shop with you! You have a face, you can remember their names and what they like to buy, you can make them feel special. The bad news is that your customers don’t have to shop with you.
There are outstanding opportunities for independent storeowners today, but you had better deliver the goods. If you don’t, someone else surely will and your customers will just quietly slip away.
I know of only one sure-fire, never-fail, super-profitable strategy for battling the big boys. Always put your customers’ wants, needs, and desires first.
Marketing genius Jay Abraham puts it this way: “The secret to success is to fall out of love with your product, service or store, and fall in love with your customers.” I call it “The Big Switch.”
When you make The Big Switch, all your business decisions suddenly revolve around what’s best for your customers, not what’s most convenient for you. Your store hours will fit your customer’s schedule. Your product assortment will reflect what your customer likes. Your store policies will be written with your customer’s best interest in mind. Your staff will be thoroughly trained so your customers get the same great service from everyone in your store that they get from you.
The list goes on and on, but it all starts with making The Big Switch and looking at everything you do through the eyes of your customers.
The Big Switch will cause you to stop looking at your customers as a single transaction and start looking at your customer as a person with whom you have a long-term relationship. The person in front of you with a credit card is someone who, if you nurture your relationship properly, will bring you thousands of dollars of business and can make a significant contribution to the success of your business.
When you love your customers, the money will follow. By putting your customer’s needs, wants and desires first, you will dramatically increase the “lifetime value” of that customer – the total amount that person will spend with you over an entire lifetime as your customer. She will shop with you more often, spend more each time she shops, stay with your company more years, and send her family, friends and colleagues to your store.
Here’s an example from when I was working on the sales floor of my store, the Mackinaw Kite Co., helping a grandmother pick out some gifts for her five grandchildren. Always one to do a little market research when the opportunity presents itself, I asked her how often she would be shopping for gifts for her grandchildren. I thought I was asking about the number of times per year she shopped, or on which holidays she shopped for gifts.
But her answer stopped me dead in my tracks. “FOREVER.”
Of course she would be shopping for gifts for her grandkids forever! Now, my eyes must have glazed over as my mental calculator started whirring. She had five grandchildren, and there were at least three gift purchases a year that I could count on, and our average sale was about fifty dollars...that’s $750 a year. And she would probably be buying gifts for at least another 15 years. In an instant, this woman was worth nearly $12,000 to my business, not just the $29.99 she was plunking down at the moment.
I knew then that I had to do everything in my power to love this customer and keep her coming to my store for as long as she was buying gifts for her grandchildren.
My challenge to you today is to make The Big Switch. Fall out of love with your product, service or store and fall in love with your customers. Make it your goal to create customers for life.
We’re all in business to make money, and the surest way to make money is to love your customers. Remember, love your customers and the money will follow.
Bob Negen is a highly acclaimed public speaker, retail expert, bestselling author and, most recently, co-creator of the acclaimed Retail Mastery System. His company, WhizBang! Training in Grand Haven, is a leader in the field of training independent retailers to run successful stores.
Bob is teaming up with Michigan Retailers Association to hold a series of daylong “Retail Boot Camps” across the state. His next one is October 4 in Lansing. More information.
Bob Negen Blog
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