The Customer and Our Success.
Updated: Jun 30
Every sale makes a difference when you are running a small business. Exceptional service can make or break a small business. It may be one of the top things that separates your shop from the other 20 on the block. And it requires attention to detail.
“We aren’t open yet” - my least favorite phrase in retail (next to “it’s not my job”). It’s literally turning away a customer that wants to be there.
We aren't open yet only works if it’s 10am and you open at 11am. This doesn’t work if it’s 10:50am and you open at 11am. The number of times I’ve heard this or some version of it is astounding. If you are near opening - let them in. You don’t have to take the customer’s order. Be polite and encourage their business. They came into your shop - whether wandering by or with intention.
Train your team to rephrase using the positive. Instead of “we aren’t open” try “we open in a few minutes. In the meantime, you’re welcome to…” ...Wait inside. ...Browse. ...Take a look at the menu.
Talk to your team about the connection between the customer and our success. Some folks simply come to work and they don’t know the connection or importance until you teach them. It’s your livelihood but it’s also theirs. A friendly welcome works.
You can also stall - show them what’s on special, make small talk. By the time they are ready to go, the team is up and running. Try opening the door if a line is forming and it’s raining or hot or cold. There are caveats - of course, be safe. If you are alone and want to wait for another person to be there, that totally works. At least acknowledge the person at the door and let the know “we will be right there, we are just about to open”
I remember waiting for my favorite coffee shop to open (Kaldi’s in Silver Spring!) and while they didn’t open early for those of use waiting - they were understaffed - they acknowledged us and gave us the “give me a minute” signal. We could see everyone was moving quickly to get open and when we got in, the cashier said, “thanks for waiting we are now ready to go” with an upbeat, happy tone.
This is can be a pivotal point on whether you create a returning customer or turn them away forever. A phrase as simple as "we open in a few minutes, please browse and we'll be right with you" is exceptional service.