By Mark Mooney
All right, class, let’s look at the wide, wide world of retail. In today’s brick and mortar retail world, looking for ways to stem the tide of the online shopper is the challenge for a lot of businesses. Online retailers have their challenges as well. But for this little bit of nonfiction reading, it’s all about the world of brick and mortar.
First, retail is retail, no matter what you are retailing. In all retail businesses, customers come to you, and you sell them stuff. And how you sell them the stuff is what makes them come back or not.
Now, customers come to businesses for specific reasons, and we’re all retail customers. You would think it would be easy to know how folks should be treated in our own businesses just based on that alone. The standard for years was to tell someone to treat others as you would like to be treated. That was the retail training #101 course from beginning to end. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. This is a very simple philosophy that still rings true.
What makes you want to do business with someone, and continue to do so? If the ongoing success of any retail business is predicated on the continued patronage of its clients, what are you doing to keep yours? If we’re all retail customers of some type, shouldn’t it be easy to recognize what type of service we want, and what type of service should be practiced in our own businesses?
I’m one of those folks who shops local businesses, and I live in a community in which this is the norm – downtown is thriving, night and day. A lot of our local businesses have outlived many of the big box stores that moved in offering the moon only to depart, leaving the local businesses still doing the business they’ve always done, with the customers they’ve always done it with, and doing it well.
To keep most of us as retail customers, you’ve got to keep earning our business. That’s always ongoing with most shoppers, no matter how they’re shopping (you can blow someone out online just as easy as in person). Here’s a thought: take care of folks. Give them a good product, good price, good service, and treat them fairly. They’ll come back and buy again and tell their friends, too. This is not rocket science, folks, this is just plain old simple retailing.
Most businesses are fundamentally simple – so simple that many people fail at it. Many proceed to make a business complicated because they believe a great, thriving business must be complicated to succeed. So, what happens? The end result is often failure because we ignore the straightforward ethics of success. Success is not dependent on complexity. Success results from a commitment to its achievement, and to consistency in the practices that will give you the type of success you seek.
As a retail customer I do know that I want to feel important to the retail establishments with which I do business. After all, I’m giving them my dollars. Customers who come first are customers that last. Where does that generally start? The quality of any organization is defined by the expectations of its ownership and management. You want to do it better than the rest, so set your bar high.
Here’s something else to remember. Companies don’t help customers, people do. Treat your customers – and your employees – the way you would like to be treated. Have what you need to get the job done. Ensure that you have the necessary staffing and the necessary expertise to properly care for the folks walking through your doors each day. Don’t nickel and dime your customer service.
It starts at the top. If the top won’t do what’s needed, what’s needed will not be accomplished by the others below. That is a fact that is chiseled in stone.
It’s easier to keep a retail business thriving by keeping the customers you have and adding to them than it is to continually replace the customers you lose due to poor retailing practices. Brick and mortar or online, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that brick and mortar stores build relationships that are personal and that can become long lasting if you do things right. After all, retail is retail…
Mark Mooney is a former dealer principal of a multi-line metric dealership with annual sales in excess of $10 million. He has partnered and works with many major OEMs to provide dealership consultation and sales training for their dealer bodies. He has delivered keynote speeches for OEMs, taught numerous classes on dealership management, trained sales teams throughout the United States, and improved bottom lines. For more information, visit http://www.markmooneypowersportsconsulting.com