I have to be honest, school shopping with my kids is not one of my favorite things to do. It’s not that I don’t enjoy spending time with my family, or spending money, it’s the entire process of spending a day going from store to store with a 12 year old son, and a 17 year old daughter. I have clearly lost sight of what is fashion, and I am reminded of that every step of the way, and yesterday was no different. Shopping with the two of them also clearly puts into perspective their difference in age and what’s important to each of them, and the patience level my son received ( or lack thereof ) from me.
However, as a small business consultant, I am constantly noticing where stores can make improvements to their systems, and as a result, improve their bottom line. As we went from loud stores with employees that looked like they just left circus training, to department stores that sold items for ages 2 through 110, I actually had a great experience that I just had to share, and that I hope you can take back and in some way apply to your own business.
After a full day of shopping my daughter was struggling to find a pair of jeans that she liked and fit her right. We looked in store after store and nothing fit her the way she wanted. Prices ranged from $15 per pair, up to $65 per pair ( which I thought was ridiculous by the way ). At what I thought was the final store, a sales clerk actually said to go downstairs to a specific store which I will not mention, and they would definitely have what she was looking for. Now this is an important point for two reasons; one she told one of her customers to go someplace else to get what she wanted, as opposed to finding a solution that would work for my daughter. Secondly, this other store had such a great reputation for service, that she knew they would take care of us. Now put yourself as the owner of each of those stores, how would you feel about that? Does your staff find a way to satisfy a customer? Or, does your business have such a great reputation for service that your competitors are sending customers to you?
After a lengthy discussion with my wife and two kids, we decided we would go to this store she recommended on the way out of the mall. When we arrived, my son and I agreed to stay out front because we knew they would not have something she wanted, and quite frankly we were sick of shopping.
This is where it all started. Plastered on the front windows of this store were signs that said, just to call ahead and tell them what type of fashion you were looking for, and they would have it waiting in the dressing room for you. You mean I didn’t have to walk around this mall all day looking from store to store? We could have called ahead and they would have our stuff waiting to be tried on? This could have saved me a day of shopping? Wow.
After about five minutes my son and I began to get impatient, so we decided to stroll around inside the front of the store to see what was taking so long. As I walked in there was nothing different, same circus outfits, same loud music, same clothes that I didn’t like or understand on the racks. I picked up a pair of jeans to check out the price, $145, that’s right more than double anything I had seen all day.
We located my wife and daughter mid way to the store, being helped by two employees, one male, one female, catering to her every need and telling her how beautiful she looked in the $145 pair of jeans she just tried on. Oh, and they told her if they didn’t fit just perfect, they could be tailored at no additional charge. They did everything my daughter wanted every other person that waited on her that day to do, tell her she looked great and they were there to make her happy.
The mall we were at was two hours from the house, and they quickly pointed out all of the stores they had closer to us, and if she wanted to they could call there and tell them what she liked, and she could go buy some there if she wanted to also. Talk about customer service?
So what can be learned from this?
- Price doesn’t matter if you are delivering value. ( by the way we now own two pairs of these jeans )
- Your customers can sell your product for you if you do a good job. My daughter was on her phone texting all of her friends before we even left the mall. ( and every other store was sending their customers there )
- Serve your customers! Find out what they want and deliver it like no one else will and you will create raving fans.
Another day of school shopping in the record books, and another 3 tips that can be applied to any business to help them become more profitable.
Patrick Lange is the owner of Business Modification Group, a company that helps small business owners increase their bottom line. Patrick can be reached directly at (863)-990-9858 or at Patrick@businessmodificationgroup.com
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