My parents had an old-fashioned, inner-city hardware store in Philadelphia. My mom worked there almost every day. It was the kind of place where customers would walk in sometimes, even if they didn’t need anything, just to say hi. Why would anybody do that?
Yesterday, I clicked onto Facebook and an acquaintance of mine, Jeff Giagnocavo was doing a Facebook Live video on a topic which is near and dear to my heart. Jeff is a customer experience fanatic…and he’s good at it.
Jeff owns a mattress store- Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA. and he also teaches other mattress retailers how to compete in their marketplace.
He was talking about his experience with a local hobby shop and how, after going there at least 8 times within 10 days and spending about $1200 in that period of time, the guy who attended to him prior didn’t even acknowledge him the next time he walked back into the store…all within a 2-week period. I find this just as ridiculous,pathetic and stupid as Jeff.
The Best Kind of Customer is the one who comes back because they like you, they feel a friendship, a kinship. It transcends price almost every time.
I’ve written on this subject many times in my One Good Idea Newsletter. Growing up in the hardware store and watching how my mom, dad and older brother were on a first-name basis with probably HUNDREDS of customers, it has just come naturally to me to be friendly and enjoy interacting with my customers. The customer experience I’ve always delivered has really just been for me. Not out of obligation and not because I want to separate my customers from their money, but it’s my joy to serve people and be friendly. The byproduct is a better business, almost impervious to competition.
Jeff has made a commitment to get his boys into a specific hobby. I’m sure he’s on the lookout for an alternative source for supplies by now.
In 1986, at age 21 I opened up a wholesale company which supplied hardware stores, discount stores and $1 stores. I have always noticed, in the most successful stores, the owner or the owner’s spouse ran the cash register…just like my family’s hardware store.
“Got everything you need? Do you want a key chain for those key’s you just got copied? Nice to see you again. THANK YOU.” It’s not a sales pitch. It’s not rude. It’s friendly and it’s helpful. I would like to think this would be the default human mindset. The storekeepers I’ve experienced and served who manned their cash register and approached life, business and their customers with genuine gratitude always seemed to be happier, have a stronger bond with their customers and have a stronger business.
My friend Jeff sells mattresses and related sleep-related products. It’s a very competitive industry. He and his partner are hard workers and forever students of marketing strategies. The customer experience is an area in which no chain store can compete and Jeff is vigilant to this end.
Why would anyone want to walk into a hardware store just to say hello? Because they felt like a friend. THIS is the #1 easiest, cheapest, most honest and natural marketing strategy a local business can apply. You don’t need to study it. You don’t need to pay a consultant to teach it.
Each one of the following suggestions will make your business better starting today.
It’s SO easy to stand out these days just by following the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You. So simple. So obvious and yet, so rare. Do THIS and differentiate yourself and your business from the pack.
Andrew Mazer, Founder of Mazer Wholesale, Inc. established since 1986. In 1996, I began marketing my wholesale business online. In 2009, I began helping other business owners market THEIR business online. I am the author of The Business Owner's Guide to Marketing Online, The Groupon Solution, and The One Good Idea Newsletter. Contact me at Andrew@smallbusinessu.org