irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry-- with an
occasional guest columnist.
Inspiring Tourists to Spend
They have certain needs that are different than
your regular customers. Meet those needs and they will spend more.
by Janet Perry (June 1, 2009)
Earlier this week, while I was on vacation, I visited a
needlework shop in the touristy town. The experience was not good,
and from it I have some suggestions for easy (and mostly free)
things you can do to improve customer service, especially for those
visiting your area.
You may be thinking that you don't get out-of-town customers, but
we all do. What about the person visiting family? Someone in town
for a graduation? A customer coming from out of town for a class?
The person who has never been to your shop before.
These ideas will improve the experience for every single customer
who comes in the door. Except for the first idea, the cost for each
of these things is minimal. But the difference they make to the
person walking in the door is great. If your poor directions mean I
can't find your shop, I won't be buying. If I can't find a place
nearby to eat, I'll spend less time since I want to get on the road
again. If you don't have the souvenir item, I might leave without
Yes, it does make a difference. Think how happy you are at stores
where the people are friendly, where they greet you and where they
like their job. I think of these places as "happy places,"
somewhere I go to spend time. I find that I will drive 45 minutes to
go to a needlework shop which is a happy place, rather than drive 10
minutes to the shop in town which is run by a grouch who complains.
With crafts so important to our customers, shouldn't we all
strive to be happy places, even if the customer only visits once?
Know your inventory.
I wanted a needlepoint canvas to stitch as a souvenir. Something
small. Virtually every crafter I know seeks out items like this. The
shop did not have anything, but they could order something. However,
I would have to look through the catalogs myself. This is in spite
of the fact that I know several appropriate pieces, including one
complete kit, from several vendors. When left to look on my own, I
found several canvases which had a similar theme.
If they had inventoried any one of these I would have bought it
– and probably much more – and left happy. It's a big week in
that town and the streets are full of visitors. Some of them, like
me, will come into the shop. They will leave disappointed.
If your area has something for which it's famous, have in stock
several (four or more) items with that theme. If your town has an
event going on, order a few more. This will cause visitors to buy
and even your locals will get them to make as gifts.
Know your basic products.
No matter what craft you sell, there are some basic products.
Maybe it's embroidery floss, a particular brand of paint, or a basic
wool yarn. Every one of your clerks should know the product, and
color cards or listings should be available.
I wanted some floss in the shop, but there was no color card. I
asked an employee and she didn't know where basic colors (like
black) could be found. She was looking drawer by drawer. I could
have done that. Your customers want you to know more than they do.
Do you have a list of local restaurants? Do you have hotels
nearby you can recommend? Customers could come from a distance to
attend a class or visit your shop and they need to eat. Can you
Make a list of where to buy coffee, breakfast, lunch, and some
hotels. Keep it by the cash register. Copy it and mail it with a
class acknowledgment to any attendee who lives more than one hour
My friends and I often make a day of visiting a shop. When I get
a recommendation from the shop's employees, it means so much.
I didn't know the town I was visiting very well, so I called for
directions. They were almost impossible to follow. The included
things like "go down W_____ Street," for a long street
without knowing where I was coming from. " Turn on Route
x," a road which at that intersection only has a name not a
number. "Turn right at _____," a national store which was
on the left on the other side of the road where I was turning. And
this was only the beginning.
Some people can give good directions, some can't. Find a person
who can or use Google maps and write them down. Ask someone who
hasn't been to your shop to test them. Once they are accurate and
clear, type them out, laminate them and put them by the phone. Every
person at the shop should use them when giving directions. They
should be on your website.
Do you do these things? I know many shops which do and I've been
able to find my way there in strange towns, had great meals, and
brought home many lovely canvases.
But what was the result of this bad experience? Although I will
be back in that town, I will not return to that store. And when I
returned home, I ordered the canvas from my local needlework shop,
which is a happy place.
(Note: Janet's webiste is www.napaneedlepoint.com,
and her blog is www.nuts-about-needlepoint.com.
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