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Friendsgiving: An Opportunity to Build Connections–Brought to you by the Millenniums

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Friendsgiving has been lurking around since 2007; it’s now becoming well-known name and likely a new holiday. It reclaims a holiday for people who, during the Thanksgiving season, can’t get to family; don’t want to be with family and those that don’t have family. In my neighborhood, we’ve called them, for lack of a better word, Thanksgiving orphans. It doesn’t take away from the traditional holiday; it adds a new dimension to it. It underscores the value of friends.

I must admit I was getting tired of going to my relatives. They served the same-old foods, nothing for the vegetarian except vegetables with no imagination or too much cheese.  My other aunt used to make a complete vegetarian dinner along with the turkey, for the vegetarians next door.  I didn’t realize you could eat anything but turkey on Thanksgiving Day. There were the relatives who drank far too much and told the same-old stories over and over. There were also the ones I just didn’t like.

We are happy to have a new description of something very cool and started by the Millenniums. In 2007, the term ‘Friendsgiving’ made the Urban dictionary. This is a great way to connect with this customer. In my book, “50 Ways to Bring Customers into Your Store,” I talk about holding events and raising money for charities.

WHY NOT HOLD A FRIENDSGIVING PARTY IN YOUR STORE AND RAISE SOME MONEY FOR YOUR CUSTOMER’S FAVORITE CHARITY!

The other day I asked my neighbors where they were going; they said a Friendsgiving party and would be back for Thanksgiving. I gave them a big smile; I was in the know!

In order to connect with your customers, you’ve got to know where they are and what they’re doing. If you’re not part of something, how will you know? Friendsgiving is not a way to forget Thanksgiving; it’s a way to add something new. Friendsgiving legitimizes something we’ve known all along—friends matter. It’s also a new way to celebrate and create a tradition.

Friends are important, no matter what your age. They make you feel better, can improve yourself-esteem and have an overall positive effect on your life. I have one friend whom I speak with almost every night; sometimes we just discuss what movies are playing.  As you age, you can expect to lose friends. My dad told me to start hanging around with younger people, this way I wouldn’t be losing friends every year!

The Millenniums are breaking the rules, how they shop, what they buy and what matters to them. They are very connected to their friends and are willing to put effort into building these relationships. According to statistics, this group is also the most connected to real ‘giving.’

I’ve been holding Friendsgiving for years; I’m glad it has a name! Enjoy  your holiday whatever its name!

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build customer relationships for over 20 years. To consult with her, call 518.495.5380 or email Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

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Magnetically Attract the Best Customers by Becoming a Community Hub

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Attract customers by becoming a community hub

“Is Amazon coming for you?”

On November 9th I will be the guest expert on FCNews Marketing Mastery Webinar.

Amazon has created huge disruption in retail by making it easy to buy virtually anything on line, and they are now expanding into brick-and-mortar.

 

Box stores have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising to create brand awareness. It may seem hopeless but it isn’t.

As a small retailer, you have advantages the big boys don’t. By using the right strategies you can out maneuver the big players and run circles around them. I will be revealing a powerful strategy to outmaneuver the big companies, and attract a LOT more customers during the upcoming fCNews webinar called:

“HOW TO TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESS INTO A COMMUNITY HUB”

For more info and to sign up: http://marketingmasterywebinar.com/Lisbeth

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Is Your Customer Wearing an Invisible Cloak?

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Is your customer invisible?

Is your customer invisible?

My friend said she went into a local high end lighting store the other day; despite there were sales people walking around, no one approached her. It was almost as if she was wearing an invisible cloak.  What kind of customer experience is this? The salespeople may have been busy or maybe they didn’t see her, but does that matter? My mother used to say that she had to “have eyes in the back of her head” when I was little. That’s what salespeople need. They must always be on alert.

She had never been in the store and was in desperate need of a part for a chandelier. Yes, we are closer to developing an invisible cloak, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I just read an article about how customer service should be invisible; I don’t think so. If you’ve got superb customer service everyone in the world should know about it. By the way, we are close to producing an invisible cloak; then what will happen to our customers?

When it comes to developing a working invisibility cloak, we may not be at Harry Potter level yet, but today’s newest breakthrough is nonetheless impressive.

A team of researchers led by Xingjie Ni—a nano-engineer at Pennsylvania State University—have just unveiled an fascinating invisibility cloak: one that takes the form of a sleek skin of nano-material.

 

We talk about providing a great customer experience; how can that happen if we don’t make a connection? Great customer experiences don’t just happen, we have to make them happen.

 

“Why didn’t anyone wait on me; she asked, didn’t I look right?” There was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but I think there was some truth in her question. My hunch is you’ve had it happen to you.

Here are 2 simple ways to keep your customers from feeling invisible:

  • Approach your new customer immediately. If you’re with another customer, politely ask them if it’s okay for you to greet the customer coming in the door.
  • Make the customer feel like an old friend. If you can offer them a place to sit or a beverage they will feel acknowledged.
  • Connect with them in other ways. Complement them when you say hello, notice their smart phone of tablet.
  • Be proactive. Can you reach out to your customer before they get to your store?

I know these may seem simple but they are common courtesies that are often forgotten but go a long way in building a customer relationship.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build positive customer experiences for the past 20 years. To speak with her about your business, call her at 518-495-5380.

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Retail Lessons I Learned From My Grandfather’s Farm

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ApplesI learned my retail lessons from my grandfather. He told me the price customers would pay for the apples depended upon how they looked; the shiny ones would bring the most money; he was right.   I watched as customers picked through the apples, smelling and admiring the polished ones. It was at this point I realized how important merchandising was. Wow, less number one; pretty things sell.

It wasn’t long before I was busily shining up the more attractive apples. The ones with the worm holes went for the least; I told grandpa we were losing money. Grandpa smiled and said it was good I was paying attention and it was important to price the shiny ones so they covered the price of  “less desirable “ apples.

This was lesson number two: make sure you understand how to price your merchandise.

How do customers determine the price they will pay?

Yesterday I was speaking with a flooring manufacturer about his products. He spent at least 15 minutes telling me how his products were made and what they were made of. Frankly I zoned out after about 5 minutes and stopped listening. The only thing that’s interested me was whether the product would look right in my kitchen. Unfortunately he never asked me what I call “the customer’s conditions of satisfaction.”

Customers will only pay your price if the product works for them; no matter what you’re selling. Once you know what they want it’s your job to help them justify why it’s a good investment.

Want to know what customers will pay for? Ask them and they will tell you. If possible talk with customers who have defected from your business. These are customers that were  only yours but have disappeared. They will have a wealth of information for you.  Once you know what they want, you can tell them what makes your products better.

Find out what why your customers have changed suppliers. When was the last time you talked with customers who no longer buy from you? They will tell you why they’ve moved on and why they like your competitors better. The big mistake is to think you “know” why. Typically, the answer will be the competitor’s price was lower. Unless you have a third party interview your lost customer, this is what you will hear. It’s just easier for the customer to tell you your price was higher.

Shop your competitors, buy from them and experience their service. There’s nothing more eye opening than becoming your competitor’s customer. I had a “big box” store measure my house for flooring; the installer came with his IPad and within 5 minutes showed me the layout and what it would cost. I called the local retailer and he was drawing my kitchen on the back of a napkin! We did that in the 70’s and it wasn’t acceptable then!

Installing products should be a “custom art.” “Custom anything” always demands more money; it takes time and means that is being crafted for the customer. I come from the floor covering industry and very few. If it were my business, I would talk about “custom installation” and nicely correct the customer every time she mention the term “installation.”

Talk about what makes you different, can you offer “white glove service?” I recently bought furniture from California that took 4 months to get delivered. The company sent me photos of the “wrapped furniture” and told me what to expect upon delivery.

I was told to take a picture of the furniture when it arrived and after it was unpacked. They also suggested I purchase their “white glove service.” It meant two people would unload the furniture and unpack it for me. I had never heard of “white glove delivery service” but thought I should give it a try. When the truck arrived the delivery man was wearing white gloves but apologized for the dust on them but he was changing them to unload my furniture. I was astonished and the delivery man took it all very seriously.

The real key is the customer determines the value of your products. It’s up to you to build the value and test it with your customers. The more value, the more they will pay.

Increasing your bottom line depends on how your customers see you and your product. This is a good conversation to have with all of your employees. You can ask them, where they think customers’ see the value.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been doing sales/customer service training for over 20 years. She is happy to discuss your situation and how she might help your business. She can be reached at 518-495-5380 or Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. She lives in Albany, New York

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Not Paying Attention to “A Couple of Bucks” Can Put you out of Business

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I have been fascinated by business since I was young. My dad loved to go to dinner with his customers, and for some reason; I always went along. I was never very quiet, but my dad didn’t mind my chatter. One time after looking at the menu I was overwhelmed by the prices. (As a six-year-old, they seemed very high.) “Dad, I said, they must make a lot of money here. Look at the prices on the menu.” My dad laughed and said there are lots of things to consider when making money. You can’t  sell just one dinner; you have to sell lots of them. It also depends on how many people can sit in the restaurant, and how much they ate. I was fascinated and began counting the chairs.

Save a penny, earn a penny.

Save a penny, earn a penny.

I asked for a pencil, so I could figure out how much money would come from fifty chairs. By the way, I was a math wizard; to me, it was a game. The more questions I asked, the more dad answered.  I wondered, was it really as simple as dad said? The most important thing he said, which I’ve never forgotten is that ‘you have to take in more money that you pay out.’ That made sense to me since I was selling seeds to pay for my baseball glove! Of course, there are things that get in the way of ‘money in money out.’

Some retailers don’t subscribe to the theory of “taking in more than they give out.” Simply put, business is about numbers; how you get the numbers isn’t that simple.  If you don’t know your numbers, eventually you will have a problem. Forget all the things between ‘money in money out,’ this is about money.

  • Does your staff give away things to make customers happy? (Things you need to charge for?)
  • If a customer is short, do you just forget it? (It’s just a few bucks.)
  • Do you waive a service charge because you forget to put it on the bill? (Who’s moving the furniture?)
  • Do you forget to bill a customer because it’s only a few bucks?
  • Are your employees embarrassed to tell the customer she added wrong? (It was only a couple of bucks.)
  • Are your employees embarrassed to tell the customer they added wrong? (It was only a couple of bucks.)
  • The customer decided to take the discount despite the bill was over 30 days.
  • Do you give out supplies and don’t bother collecting? (It was only a couple of bucks.)

When was the last time you checked out your piggy bank where you throw your change?

Taken from Lisbeth’s book, “101=1 Ways to Heat up Your Bottom line.” Available at Amazon. To have Lisbeth speak at your business or schedule a consultation; reach her at 518-495-5380 or Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:54+00:00September 26th, 2014|Blog, Building your business|0 Comments