One thing small business owners often forget is that “people buy from people”. Yes, some people base their shopping preferences on price, but most people prefer to buy from stores they feel comfortable in. As such, it is crucially important to reconsider the experience of your typical customer from time to time, regardless of the size of your store.
Here are 3 common sense tips which, once applied, can help you start selling more in your store right away:
Does your customer feel that he or she “matters” to your staff? If a customer walks through your doors and senses indifference from the staff, he or she is likely to feel less comfortable. “Less comfortable” means you have a lesser amount of trust. A lesser amount of trust means fewer sales, and/or fewer items per sale.
Dale Carnegie taught us that if someone feels important in your presence, he or she is more likely to take the action we desire from them.
Do you make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for? In a small store this may be of little consequence, but in a slightly larger store it can present a problem for the customer. Are the contents of each section clearly marked, and/or do you have a schematic layout on a board in the front of the store?
You never know just how bad your customer’s day has been before he or she walked through the door. While his or her impatience may be unjustified, your ability to make shopping in your store just a little bit easier will not only make his or her day better, but also engrave the memory of a positive shopping experience in their minds. That memory will carry some weight when they need something from your store again, or need to recommend you to someone else who does.
In addition to that, if someone is in a hurry and/or impatient, the last thing you want is for them to leave without everything they came for – or even empty handed.
Ask your customers for their opinions. If they were able to change just one thing about your shop, what would it be? This can help you to identify problem areas – whether it be related to store layout, stock availability, or staff interaction. Many of these will of course not be possible to implement (coming from the perspective of people with no clue about business), but you will be able to identify your customers’ main gripes, and address them as best as you can.
At the end of the day, happy customers buy more, they come back more often, and they are more likely to recommend your store to others. The customer isn’t always right, but investing in happy customers (wherever possible) is an investment in the future value of that customer. If in doubt, consider the “lifetime value” of your average customer – meaning the projected amount of profit from each customer, including referrals, during the time he or she is likely to be shopping at your store.
Also keep in mind that, following the experience a customer has in your store, he or she can influence (directly, and indirectly through word of mouth) hundreds of other people. It’s impossible to please everybody – but it’s worth going the extra mile wherever you can.