Do you ever wonder why customers come to your store, browse around, perhaps buy something, and then never return? If you don’t, you should wonder why this happens. One survey taken recently asked retail shoppers why they didn’t return to stores to shop there again. Fifteen percent said they didn’t like the prices, another fifteen percent said they don’t go back because of the product selection. Seventy percent of the people who were surveyed said they didn’t return to stores because of the people who work there. Seventy percent! Customer retention is a very important part of any retail store’s success, so let’s take a look at some things you can do to help make sure your customers come back again and again.
Employees RU – Your employees are the “face” of your store. Unless you are there every minute your store is open and personally wait on every customer that comes in, your employees are you. Take a good look at what your employees are wearing and make sure they are always neat and clean, and in a proper store uniform, if you have one. A store employee who looks like they just came in from a day at the beach or that they plucked wrinkled clothes off the floor before heading in won’t give your customers much confidence in them, or your store. Develop and implement a dress code for yourself and your staff, and make it mandatory that everyone follows it, no exceptions.
Attitude is Everything – How do you think your store “feels” when someone walks in for the first time? Not how warm or cold it is, but the general atmosphere of the store. Does it feel welcoming and friendly, or do people coming in get the feeling that they are on their own, and good luck finding what they need? The attitude of you and your employees toward your customers can make or break a customer relationship. And after all, retailers are in the relationship business, right? When 70% of people say the people who work in a store are the reason they don’t come back, you bet you are in the relationship business! Friendly, smiling customer service staff who act like they are eager to help when asked will give your customers a good feeling about walking in and asking for help.
Know Your Stuff – In the paint and decorating industry, there are many products that require specific knowledge in order to use them properly. Everyone who works in your store should be up-to-speed on the products you sell, and having at least one staff member on duty at all times who is considered to be a coatings specialist is a must. This may require some planning and extra training for new employees, but it will be worth it in the end. No one wants to make the effort to go to a paint store and ask what type of paint or coating to use for a specific project and be met with a blank stare or a tentative “Well…this one might work ok for that.”
First Impressions Count – Pay attention to the way you and your staff present yourself to customers. Do you stand and talk to customers with your arms folded in front of you, or keep on working with your back to them? Do you invade their personal space? Are you and or your staff members engaged in personal conversations while customers roam the store aisles? If you are doing any of those things, do your best to quit doing them! That said, rushing to a customers’ side at the door and following them closely around the store may not be the best way to create that good relationship you are looking for either. By greeting them with a “Good morning! Great to see you today!”, and then leaving them to get acclimated to the store surroundings for a moment, you will generate a good first impression without making them feel like they are being “hounded”.
Size Them Up – Try to quickly figure out what the customer wants. Are they there for something specific, are they in a hurry, or are they there to quietly browse? Retail employees who can quickly assess a customer’s demeanor and act accordingly will be a great asset to your store. Of course, sizing up a customer does not mean employees should be judgmental about a customer’s looks or what they are wearing. There is a story that circulates in the lore of the retail industry about an old farmer who walked into a home improvement store in tattered clothes and muddy shoes. Full time employees working on commission quickly assumed that the man couldn’t afford what they sold there, and ignored him. One part time employee, however, approached the man and began a conversation with him, subsequently finding out that the man was there to purchase everything needed for a complete remodel of his home’s kitchen. He had saved for a long time to be able to remodel the kitchen for his wife who had “made do” with an old, worn out kitchen for years. Thousands of dollars were spent that day by the farmer with no commission being earned because those employees incorrectly judged the man in old clothes and muddy shoes. Even if commissions are not involved at your store, incorrectly judging a customer could end up being very costly.
The moral of this story? Customer retention is extremely important for retail success, and training your staff accordingly is one of the best ways to make sure all of your customers come back again and again. The good news is, getting yourself and your staff properly trained is just a click away with PDRA’s training resources:
Train the Trainer – FREE!
Trainer’s Toolbox – FREE!