Best to Stick With the Basics
When I was an in-the-trenches retailer, I attended countless trainings on pretty much any topic you can imagine. But I’m not going to lie, training didn’t always feel productive. In fact, I often left wondering why we were always harping on “best business practices” when really what I needed to know was how to handle the one-off stuff.
Like, rather than focus on details of the greeting, the approach, or suggesting additional products, I waned to know what to do when a customer aggressively declined my assistance. Or what to do when shoppers slinked through the store obviously comparing my prices to the online market (and then griped for a discount when they found a comparable sock in Estonia for a buck cheaper). I was sick of focusing on “best practices” because I was good at such layups.
Given the benefit of hindsight, I now realize how blurred my vision was. My (so called) need to handle those weird and unique moments proved I was trying to satisfy everyone who walked in the door. In theory, this is a fine ideal, but it’s not realistic. As a retailer, no matter how doggone good you are, you will never, ever, satisfy everyone.
To that I simply say, “no biggie.”
You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again—you need to know exactly what you are trying to do, and then go big with it. This means, if you own a tennis store focused solely on tennis, you don’t even consider carrying gear for squash or badminton. If you own a running store and only want to offer trail options, you don’t bother with road shoes. Get the point? It’s about knowing precisely who you are, then sticking to your guns.
You do this because you’ll start to attract the right customers for you. And my guess is you’d rather attract customers who align with your values than customers who view you as the go-to for everything. You ain’t Amazon, people. And thank goodness, because Amazon is that boring person at parties. You are the one who makes everyone feel good, and that’s more important.
But I digress.
Fact is, once you’ve got a clear vision dialed in (and you are owning it), you absolutely do practice those layups. Not behind the back reverse finger-rolls, either. You spend time on the standard, proper-handed, off the top of the backboard ringer. Because when you start missing easy layups, you’ve lost your sense of self.
Nobody wants to hang out with folks who constantly change their tune. They are too unpredictable to fall in love with.
Which leaves us with a couple dangling loose ends. What DO we do when someone is refusing help? What DO we do when customers are showcasing? What DO we do when getting pushback on price or color or whatever?
Again, the answer is simple (and arguably, a best business practice, too). When we are faced with a less-desirable situation in the store, we make an effort to do two things:
1. DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY…if you do, you are probably more focused on your needs being met than the customer’s. No bueno.
2. CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL…if folks want to price compare, or balk about the missing lime-green option, or if they refuse to let you deliver your amazing service, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. Nothing. Your best bet is to keep doing your thing. Be consistent with your service, your language, your willingness, and attitude. And, if you can’t do this without being a passive aggressive jerk, see #1 above.
Really folks, once you’ve defined and embodied your vision, just play your game. But don’t forget that training on “best business practices” is where it’s at. Stick to the fundamentals and watch your business grow.
Tom Griffen is a highly sought after trainer and presenter whose message transcends industries. He’ll help you raise the bar while you reinvent your business.