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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Improve your KNOW, LIKE and TRUST Quotient to increase your bottom line!

Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of customer service and it is all about your KLT Quotient.  After all, a shopper who KNOWS, LIKES, and TRUSTS you is a shopper who will spend hard earned money in your store.  Most retailers know how to be charming and engaging, but many fall short when it comes to training their employees to do the same.  After all, we often assume that everyone knows how to answer the phone in a gracious manner, will think to assist an elderly patron with her packages, or will cheerfully distract a whiny child so that Clueless Mom can shop without annoying other customers.  Unfortunately, we all know the problem with making an assumption...too often the reality proves to be quite different than what we had expected.  Are your employees inadvertently sabotaging your efforts to create a warm and fuzzy shopping experience for the folks who pay your rent?  Hmmm....maybe the disconnect is on your side!

Most employees want to perform well.  Nobody likes missing the mark or letting down the boss.  However, it is hard to succeed if the mark is fuzzy and out of focus. 

What is Crafty Retailer to do?

Improve your communication skills, for starters! 

Most craft stores are owned by women and some women have a difficult time defining their expectations in a clear, concise and meaningful way.  Assertiveness seems to go against our DNA....we have an innate desire to be liked and to avoid confrontation.  Moreover, our employees  often become our friends in a way that is not true in a more Testosterone driven environment.  My husband would never think to discuss personal "stuff" with his staff and he certainly doesn't want to hear any intimate details from them, either.  Me?  I want all the sordid details, sister!  The people who work for me know about my dog's health issues, my daughter's last date, and my struggle with the scale.  C'mon....'fess up!  It is probably true with you, as well.

It doesn't take long before many of us are sharing snippets of life with our employees.  It makes work more interesting and companionable, to be sure.  The down side is that  it feels really uncomfortable to "boss around" our friends.  Accordingly, we often give a directive in a manner that sounds more like a suggestion than a requirement.  You know what I mean.....you ask an employee if she can rearrange a display when she has a minute, rather than asking her to have it done by Friday.  You assume that it will be done within the next week and she assumes that it will get done if she has the time.

It is likely that the week will go by with the employee never finding that free minute.  You will be left frustrated and annoyed, staying late to create the display yourself, missing your son's soccer game and grumbling all the while.  Meanwhile, the poor employee senses your irritation but has no clue as to the cause, simply shrugging it off to Menopause----After all, she has been listening to you complain about hot flashes for weeks.  Ouch.

 It is easy to lose control of your shop if you do not establish clear processes and procedures. You have a right to expect the people you pay to do what is necessary to move the store forward.  However, you have a concomitant responsibility to make your expectations well defined and easy to discern.   Get over your fear of appearing bitchy--- You are not a bitch by making your expectations clear; rather, you are only a bitch if you communicate those expectations in a hostile or aggressive manner.  Channel your inner Steel Magnolia and get the job done!


 Cover the basics:  gum chewing, cell phone usage and texting, attire, attitude, etc.  

Put it in writing!
If you want the phone to be answered in a certain way, establish a procedure for it, discuss it at the weekly staff meeting (you are having weekly staff meetings, aren't you?), and put it in writing!  Keep a copy of the memo near the phone as a reminder. 


Train your employees as to the proper way to greet a customer.  "Let me know if you have any questions" is not an option.  Some more creative suggestions:

Is this your first time in the store?
If yes, then you have a wonderful opportunity to give a little tour and point out shop highlights.  If the answer is No, you can inquire as to her current project or ask what brings her in this time.

Whatcha working on?
We all love talking about our projects.  Nothing makes me feel better than having a chance to speak CraftyLove with another addict.  We have an instant bond and it adds to the whole KNOW/LIKE/TRUST factor that will turn customers in fans.

OMG!  I LOVE your sweater/scarf/necklace!  
Did you knit/crochet/weave it yourself?  Let me see it up close!
 I went into an office furniture store today to scout out my husband's competition.  I was immediately approached by a beautiful, well appointed woman who greeted me with a wide smile.  She stuck out her hand to shake mine but noticed my scarf (pictured at right)  and immediately changed gears....it was all about the scarf for the next minute.  She was genuine and delightful----too bad she is the competition because I could tell that it would be easy to KNOW/LIKE/TRUST her!  Interested in the Scarf  Tutorial?  Check it out here.

Give your trusted employees a degree of autonomy and decision making authority.
It will increase morale and inure to your benefit.  I had an encounter today where a strict an adherence to corporate policy would have been poison.  Fortunately, the employee had the authority to step outside of the corporate box to make an on the spot decision that made me KNOW/LIKE/TRUST the company.   I went to pick up some wall decals that I had designed as a giveaway for hubby's business. They were a special order and I knew that they were "non-returnable."   Unfortunately, the resolution of the image that I had sent was--unbeknownst to me--- inadequate, resulting in a flawed decal.  I was dissatisfied with the product and annoyed that the printer had not contacted me before the final printing to apprise me of the problem.   He was irritated because he figured that I knew what I was sending ---- he simply printed what he saw.    Clearly, we were at a bit of an impasse.    I could almost see the wheels turning as the salesman debated how to proceed.  Fortunately, he turned the situation into a win-win.  I will provide a better image and he will reprint the decals.  He even took the time to give me a bit of an education on his product line so that I can avoid a similar mistake in the future.

 He was excited and enthusiastic about his job, knowledgeable about his industry, and eager to move forward to make me a happy customer.  We are both confident that we will do more business together in the future.  His boss is lucky to have him and was wise to have given him a degree of latitude in daily operations.After a shaky start, this incredible sales guy went out of his way to get me to KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST him.  It worked....I doubled my initial order, placed an additional order, and left happy.   Win-Win.


IN THE STUDIO:

The holidays are hectic for every business owner and a complicated craft project would push me over the edge right now.  Accordingly, I am DELIGHTED to be working on my latest, somewhat mindless, endeavor....a rag rug crocheted from colorful old T-Shirts.  I get to be thrifty and wax nostalgic at the same time!   My daughter wants to save every shirt as a "momento" but is willing to let me raid her stash to make a commemorative rug.  It will go in a bright corner of our kitchen once it reaches 48 inches. This would be a killer first project for a teen age crochet class because of the large hook size and easy to see stitches.    I adapted the Hexagon Tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24.

6 comments:

  1. But also - train your staff to know when to back off on "engagement" with a customer. Recently I went into a store that I visit often and was greeted by a new employee who essentially followed me around making unsolicited suggestions/inquiries about what I was doing, when I really wanted to just wander around the store and commune with the fabric. Instead of making me KNOW/LIKE/TRUST this store, the employee made me feel that she didn't TRUST me to out of her sight in the store on my own. Your staff need to be sensitive to difference between engagement and harassment. In this instance, I left without buying anything and will not be going back soon!

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  2. I couldn't agree more! I rarely frequent one of my favorite clothing boutiques anymore because a new hire insists on "getting in my space," following me and chattering non-stop. It is offensive and off putting---taking all of the fun out of he shopping experience. The shop owner is a savvy gal and I am surprised that she hasn't noticed it.

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  3. I've had a similar experience. Salesperson asked lots of questions, when all I wanted to do was to browse in peace. Sometimes I don't want to share my projects with others, especially people I don't know. It can be quite annoying.

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  4. I guess the bottom line is that we need to train our salespeople to clue into body language and issues of personal preference. A good saleswoman will know when to back off, and when to get a bit more chummy---looking to the customer for guidance.

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  5. It is good to know what is going in in one another's life, however; the employee more than likely has to hear the same drama & trama stories all day long, day after day. A retail business is not a good place to dump your personal "stuff". We have to listen to the customers dump their problems and frustrations and that requires a lot of our energy. A boss should keep the atmosphere up and enjoyable for all.

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  6. Agreed. Speed of the leader, speed of the pack!

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