TO KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS COMING BACK
SMALLBIZ $UCCE$$ $TRATEGIE$
A young woman walked into a sewing
store with her four-year-old son.
She wanted to buy her first sewing
machine to learn to make gifts and
to repair and make clothing for
the family. She didn’t have
much money as she had just moved
into town, but she had a well-paid
position offered to her, starting
the next month.
explained her needs to the salesperson,
who showed her the more economic
models. While this was happening,
her son was exploring the store
contents. He wasn’t doing
any harm, just picking up the odd
thing to touch and feel it. The
salesperson became quite agitated
and asked the mother to stop her
son from picking items off the shelf.
The young mother felt upset, could
not focus on the machine purchase
and left, informing the salesperson
that she would return without her
son another day.
didn’t return because she
didn’t feel welcome and didn’t
have a sitter for her child. She
found another store in town who
welcomed both her and her child,
showing her son the play center
and offering him a cookie and some
toys. The mother bought her first
machine, returning a few months
later when the family had settled.
She fell in love with an embroidery
machine and bought one. She took
store sewing classes, met some friends
and became a regular customer.
the sake of some human warmth and
understanding, the first store lost
a good, long-term customer. How
you can beef up your service and
keep those customers coming back?
Here’s some simple tips.
to children: Many moms
have to take children with them
when they shop, so make your store
or business child-friendly. Some
ideas: make a space for a small
play centre with toys. Install a
television and have some videos
there for them. Have a selection
of juice boxes and cookies for the
children to enjoy, and balloons
and candy at the front counter.
Children don’t forget these
treats. Neither do the moms, who
appreciate your thoughtfulness so
that they have time to peacefully
clean washrooms: When women
shop, they often plan their “milk
run” around where they can
find a washroom, particularly if
they have children in tow. Some
store washrooms are a disgrace.
If yours is, clean it, paint it,
add some wallpaper, nice soaps,
guest hand towels and a silk floral
arrangement. Women tell other women
about nice (and nasty) washrooms.
Keep that coffee pot on year-round,
not just at Christmas. Customers
will tell others and greatly appreciate
say thank-you: Whether
a customer purchases or not, thank
them for dropping by with a little
promotional gift, and send thank-you
cards to customers for purchasing.
One store owner told me that she
sends thank-you cards to customers
who purchase over $200. “But
why put a price limit on saying
thank-you?” was my response.
“It’s the small customers
who become large customers.”
A perfect example is the young woman
in the story above.
calls: Because many business
owners are so busy trying to do
too many jobs and always looking
for the next customer, they often
neglect after-sales follow-up, yet
it is a key element in ensuring
repeat business and in building
either a computer database or a
manual file card system for monthly
service calls, where someone calls
each customer within ten days of
purchase to ask how the purchase
or the service is, and whether there
are any problems. This achieves
two goals: first, your customers
will appreciate your concern and
remember you; second, you will circumvent
any negative word-of-mouth gossip
if there is a problem, which you
can then immediately attend to.
here, you now have a record of customer
purchases and you can start a service
reminder system, just as car dealerships
(and dentists) do. Busy women appreciate
reminders. My car dealership sent
two service letters and then called
as I hadn’t responded (too
busy and out of town). They immediately
organized a courtesy vehicle and
service appointment. I did appreciate
their persistence and caring.
is one area that many business owners
neglect because they are too busy.
To grow your business, you have
to learn to delegate and prioritize
your work. Services such as follow-up
calls and pick-up and delivery can
be delegated to a part-time person.
The return on investment will be
long-term, satisfied and happy customers
who will not only keep coming back,
they will tell a friend, who will
tell a friend, who will tell a friend...
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For information, contact Frances
McGuckin at firstname.lastname@example.org.