Expert Retail Advice by Bob Johnson

Let’s start with a question: hands up if you’ve ever been bitten by an elephant? No? Well, lucky you, because several people have.

Then what about a horse: have you been bitten by a horse? I think a few would say ‘yes’ to that.

Okay, have you been bitten by a dog or a cat? Aha, I think quite a few hands went up in response to that question.

Finally, have you been bitten by a mosquito? Whoa… looks like all of you have had that pleasure.

And my point? It’s the little things that ‘bite’ you.

Click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter

And in business, this is often true as well because, as customers, we are often annoyed or even angered by those little things that people do, or don’t do, that really bug us.

Similarly, when a person does that little extra for us — goes ‘above and beyond’ the norm — we are usually impressed – and we remember it.

So, whether negative or positive, the little things really do make a difference.

Here are some examples to ponder and discuss in your business:

• Say ‘thank you’…lots: Be it customers for their patronage, employees or co-workers for their results and efforts, or a supplier who has done that little extra for you. People love to be appreciated for what they do. And if you say ‘thanks you’ in writing it is appreciated even more. Imagine an employee arriving home to find a letter of thanks from their manager. And it won’t go straight into the bin; they will show someone/everyone!

• Reward rather than bribe customers: Bribery in selling sounds like: “If I give you ‘this’, will you do ‘this’ for me?” Bribery happens within the negotiation. Reward, on the other hand, comes after the negotiation. When it’s all over, done and dusted, the salesperson now gives the customer that little extra (delivery, installation, a cable et cetera), so in this case it’s a reward, not a bribe — and a reason for the customer feel they got that little extra.

• Avoid giving saleable stock away: I once met a salesperson who made it standard practise to give away a packet of spare bags with every vacuum cleaner she sold. When I showed her how much more she had to sell to produce enough net profit to cover the loss on the bags, she stopped immediately.

• Farewell customers from their side of the counter: If appropriate, walk with them to the exit. If the item is in a carry bag, Place a hand at each top corner and present it to the customer so that the customer can take the bag by the ‘handle’.

• Remember customers’ names: This impresses customers greatly and makes them feel important, especially when you recall their name the next time you meet.

• Follow up sales as/when appropriate: I dislike marketing calls at home as much as the next person, however, I am always delighted to receive a call from someone I am doing business with who has taken the time to follow up or check on a purchase and keep in touch.

• Take care of your stock: An employee in a supermarket carelessly dropped and broke the $12 LED light globe I was buying. It was of course replaced for me, but as I left the store I did a quick calculation. Supermarkets average around 2 per cent net profit, which means that to put the $12 from the broken item back into the cash register, additional sales of $600 would be needed. So, for the next 20 or so customers, the store will add nothing to net profitability, it will merely catch up on the broken globe.

The Power of the Unexpected

In almost every situation I hear about loyalty, it comes down to small, thoughtful gestures. Like the car dealer who washes your car when they service it; the ‘thank you for your business’ card/letter/email; using the customer’s name appropriately — and then remembering it; sending a small gift in the mail after the sale is completed and, generally, just keeping in touch.

Just about anybody can do ‘the big things’ because they are so obvious. But when it really comes down to it, it’s the thoughtful little things you do that will make a huge difference to customer relations.

Remember, it’s only when we do the things we don’t have to do that we are seen as being truly different.