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26 04, 2020

Make Sure Your Customers Never Forget You

By |2020-04-26T22:58:42-04:00April 26th, 2020|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Make Sure Your Customers Never Forget You

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Floor Covering News

First published, Floor Covering News Wire, https://reader.mediawiremobile.com/FloorCoveringNews/issues/206052/viewer?page=11

The daily news coverage and sobering statistics about the economic impact on top of the health implications brought on by the novel coronavirus can be overwhelming, to say the least. I find I’m also being bombarded by an influx of ads and email communications—as most people are, I’m sure—while we’re all hunkering down under shelter-in-place orders.

It seems almost daily that I receive a coupon or promotional offer from a store selling “non-essentials.” Do I really need perfume from Macy’s or a dishtowel from Bed, Bath and Beyond at the moment? Perhaps it’s better to use all this downtime to use up everything in the cabinets and closets, and maybe give away the extra stuff.

I get it: marketers are looking to cash in on captive audiences, many of whom are spending more time online. The thought process being, stay top of mind with consumers during the downturn, and they might reward you when they are ready to emerge from retail hibernation to begin buying again. But here’s the problem: With so many people out of work, the last thing customers need are spiffs for non-essential items. Rather, I think people will remember those who have been investing in the health and welfare of local communities.

Here is a heartwarming story about community investment near my home.

There is a Hilton Garden Inn across the street from a major teaching hospital in Albany, N.Y. State Employees Federal Credit Union spearheaded an effort in collaboration with Barry, Bette and LaDuke (a construction company) and from health care groups such as CDPHP and MVP Health Care to transform the hotel across from Albany Medical Center into the Heroes Landing, a nearby respite for our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to receive much-needed rest, nutrition, comfort and strength between shifts. Now, that’s memorable! These folks will be remembered as heroes.

Following tragedies, we cherish stories about people who go above and beyond the call of duty. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make your business a destination. This was a trend before COVID-19, and I expect it will escalate as we navigate this crisis. Why not be the leader in your community?

This is a rare opportunity to honor the heroes in your town—your mayor, the hospital’s personnel, delivery men—those whose jobs are essential. This is a great way to show them how much you care. Maybe you can have a barbecue in your parking lot (observing social distancing rules, of course.) It doesn’t have to be fancy; you just need to do it.

The new normal

No doubt, COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work and communicate. One trend I see emerging from all this is the one-stop-shopping concept, especially as we continue to limit our exposure amid this pandemic. Even after this situation has subsided, I believe people will be cautious for some time. As China relaxes its coronavirus restrictions, the rest of the world will be watching closely to see if another wave of the virus hits.

I also expect online shopping as well as connecting through different social media channels (i.e. video chatting) will be more important than ever. Social media is what’s getting many of us through this and will continue to help us connect.

In the midst of everything that’s going on, think of creative ways to make customers remember you when this nightmare is finally over—and one day it will be over. Let’s not be victims complaining about what isn’t happening. Let’s prepare for the future and make it happen.

Need someone to talk with? Connect with me, [email protected]

#floorvcoveringnews #COVID-19 #Retailflooring, #smallbusiness

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27 11, 2010

Small Business Saturday: Make it Your Celebration

By |2017-03-03T12:07:12-05:00November 27th, 2010|Categories: Blog, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

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The first annual Small Business Saturday, November 27, 2010.

Small businesses unite.

November 27th has been declared small business Saturday

“This is the start of a movement,” said Kenneth Chenault, CEO and Chairman of American Express since 2001. November 27th has been proclaimed Small Business Saturday.  “Small Business Saturday” is being spread on Facebook and Twitter with American Express extending an offer of $25.00 card credit to the first 100,00 who sign up to to use their American Express to make a purchase.

The “Small Business Saturday” initiative was launched this week on social networking websites to help participants spread the word about the impact of local spending.  According to advocacy group The 3/50 Project, $68 of every $100 spent in small businesses remains in the community.  It is also estimated by the federal government that 2/3rds of all new American jobs over the past two decades have been created by small businesses.  The idea behind shop locally and the 3/50 Project was spearheaded by Cynda  Baxter.   Check out her blog, Always Upward.

These days the Internet makes it a lot easier to start a movement, states  Nathan McGee,  in his blog about starting a movement.  The Harvard Business Review talks about creating movements, taking charge and learning how to lead.  Here’s a download-able pdf file, from Corporate Performance Resources, that talks about leadership and responsibility. With leadership, goes responsibility and a certain amount of stress. Leadership isn’t for everyone nor is the stress that can come with leadership.  Of course, there’s good stress and bad stress.  Making something happen is definitely good stress.

As “Small Business Saturday” approaches, make the most of it for your business.  Post “Support Small Business Saturday” on your Facebook. Twitter and blog about it.    Let’s turn it into something that makes consumers pay attention.   As small business owners, this is another opportunity for us to join in and promote our “smallness” and our “uniqueness”.  It also is an opportunity to show we’re united.

Does it work for the floor covering industry?  I spoke with Joan Cocuzzo of Flooring American in Franklin, MA .  She’s all for it!

“Anything that gets the customer out is a good thing.  In my 15 years of experience, I find that customers are buying electronics and toys after Thanksgiving and not flooring. Of course we will certainly be open on Saturday supporting “Small Business Saturday” and welcoming our customers,” says Joan.

What can you do?  Join up with your business neighbors and create a cross over promotion; they say two heads are better than one.  We know that two pocketbooks are better than one.

Celebrate your business; have a birthday party for your store!

Celebrate small businesses everywhere, help customers see that you’re proud to be a small business.

Don’t forget to have special coupons or give-a-ways for the day.

Plan for special demonstrations, gift cards, bands, give away poinsettia plants  or Christmas trees.

You’ve got plenty of help with the day; remember American Express is spearheading the event and the last I looked there were almost 900 people on Facebook  “liking”  the day.

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9 03, 2010

So What and Who Cares!?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00March 9th, 2010|Categories: Customer Satisfaction|Tags: , , |1 Comment

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Ernestine Ernestine the Switchboard Operator from Saturday Night Live

I don’t know how many of you remember or have seen the reruns of Ernestine, the silly Switchboard Operator who couldn’t get anything straight… but we liked her!

Customer service alive or dead has prompted many of you to respond. A good friend of mine and prominent Canadian businessperson sent me this felonious report. Apparently my friend has been doing business with this well known Canadian manufacturer of flooring products for 30 plus years.

While in the process of producing advertising material for her company, my friend said she needed some explanation on a product from one of the companies included in the material. She made her call, introduced herself to the switchboard operator, explained the purpose for the inquiry and asked the switchboard operator to confirm the company’s address and 800 number before the brochure went to print. Keep in mind, my friend is no stranger to the company and she isn’t from one of those states that is notoriously rude… in case that’s what you’re thinking.

Anyway, even though the switchboard operator knows my friend, duh (my friend’s words) she quickly asked "did someone from our company tell you to call here?"  My friend replied no, to which the switchboard operator replied "then I can’t give you the information." Another duh!

According to my steaming friend, she (nicely) re-iterated her need and was told there was no way that she could get it. But in all her helpfulness, the woman replied she could go to the Web site. Meanwhile I can hardly see the keyboard through my tears of laughter as I type away. My friend interpreted this as a “get lost” and she found herself saying that she felt the woman was being rude. The woman, obviously not to be outdone, replied that she felt that my friend was also being rude.

(Rirst rule of business, never miss an opportunity to upstage a customer.)

My friend goes on to explain that she was flabbergasted and asked to speak to the woman’s boss, whom she has had a great relationship with for many years. The boss came on the line and he said that she (my friend) wouldn’t believe the calls that they get, one time someone ask for their address, shipped them a product and then asked for payment!

To which my friend replied, so what and who cares? I am trying to advertise your company and your products to all architects across the country at my expense and this is your response? Triple Duh!

All is well that ends well; the boss gave her the information she needed, apologized, and said he would speak to the switchboard operator… while my friend reshuffled his competitor to the top!

Some tips:

  • Know your customers; somebody should know the 30 year-old customer. If not get someone who does before you turn down their request.
  • Treat all your customers special; sure some are crack pots but if I want to do business with you “I’m special.”
  • Give people leeway in their decision making; the key is to get customers to stay – not go!
  • Send an apology note for the mix up; a bag of goodies, blog it. Go way beyond what’s expected and turn the unhappy customer into a raving fan as they say.
  • Be easy on employees; obviously this one had been instructed to do it a certain way; she was only doing her job. Maybe the job needed to be updated, maybe she needs to get to know the customers better.
  • Everyone has to care; there are only so many customers out there and more of you trying to get those customers. With less customers and more time on my hands, I can spend more time trying to steal your customers—if I’m smart!

Have a great day!

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