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VDTA July 2017

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Are THEY Happy?

By William "Billy" Stoll Jr., LOK General Store LLC

Who are they? I'll tell you who they are. They are your business's life blood. They put the bread on your table at home. They can be your friend or your enemy. They are who make or break you. They are your customers.

Without them, you are like an artist without a brush. A carpenter without a hammer. An accountant without a calculator. Without them you might as well lock up and go home. A retail store without customers is a business that has closed.

I'm sure you have heard the old saying about how the customer is the boss... how they can fire everyone in the company, from the president on down. All they have to do is take their business elsewhere.

So with this in mind and with the recognition of the customer's importance, we as store owners should be asking the following questions on a regular basis:

≫ Are my customers happy?
≫ Are my customers satisfied?
≫ Do they actually enjoy shopping at my store?
≫ Do we offer products that they need and want?
≫ Do I put them first?
≫ Do I treat them fairly?

Never stop asking yourself these questions. Never stop trying to do better. There is always room for improvement.

Each year most businesses spend thousands of dollars on advertising. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you shouldn't advertise. We advertise in various places and ways as well, but it seems we have forgotten the most valuable and persuasive form of advertising available. Our customers. Our clients.

Nothing will help you sell product quicker than a happy and satisfied customer.

How do we accomplish this? Here are a few things to think about and keep in mind:

Be honest. You will get nothing but grief if you are dishonest with your customers. Being dishonest with them or presenting a product dishonestly will chase them away before you can say "scat."

Something I've often noticed in salespeople is that they will push a customer to buy something that doesn't really fit their needs just because it's a
higher dollar machine or it's going to make them more money. What's my complaint with that? Don't I like to make money? Sure I do. But the bank's doors will close permanently if you create a dissatisfied customer. They'll never be back.

It's in your hands. It's in your power. If you sell them what they need and want, they'll be happy. This means they will tell their friends, and if they need something more, they'll be back to see you. Not at the local, big box store. Gain their trust, show them their options, and let them choose.

Be Fair. Say someone comes in your store who you know is having a little financial trouble. They need a vacuum to clean their house. Help them out. What's it going to hurt to show a little love? Very likely, helping someone will gain you more business in the future.

How? Simple. Financial standings change. For example, this down-and-out customer that you gave a reconditioned vacuum to later finds a good job, moves up the ladder of success, and decides it's now time to buy a good vacuum. She's got the money now. She can afford it. Do you think she'll remember your kindness? Of course she will! And because she had a good experience with you, she's happy and will share this with her friends. We all like to tell others of good deeds and kind acts done to and for us. Your customers are no different.

Be Kind. Kindness is a must. Be courteous. Hold the door. Say please and thank you. Smile often. Offer them a bottle of water.

Let me ask you a question: If you could choose what type of person to be around, what would you choose – happy or grumpy? That's easy, isn't it? We would all choose happy. No one wants to be around a grumpy, ungrateful person. So be nice. You won't be sorry.

Keep these things in mind and practice until you can do them without any conscious effort. Your doors will become a continuous flurry of motion as satisfied customers go to and fro. They'll be happy. You will be happy. Life will be less stressful. Remember this: It's not so much about what you sell as how you sell it.

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional & SQE Professional, July 2017