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What to do if you have too many customers

It must be all those trees we have. They’re so full of customers that businesses just don’t need any more.

As you know, I strongly encourage folks to buy local.

The flip side of that is that locals have to EARN the business. Not just because you’re here, but because you kick butt at what you do.


I called a couple of stores about getting a sound bar for my son’s Jeep as a gift to acknowledge a major accomplishment he recently completed.

One said: “We don’t have them but we have the speakers for them.”

The Department of Obviousness requires that I inform you that the holes in these sound bars are designed to fit common speaker sizes so that retailers don’t have to stock custom speakers.

After checking the store, another said: “I don’t think we can get anything like that.”

No one said “We don’t carry that, but I can get it here tomorrow and install it for you. When would you like to bring the Jeep in?”

The last answer is what keeps people from buying car audio gear on the internet.

The point

While I’m only talking about a $200 purchase plus installation, the big picture was missed.

The size of this purchase isn’t the point.

What you *must* get across to your staff (no matter what you do) is that the real long-term reason to make a sale is to *get a new customer*. â?¨After that, it’s their challenge to keep us as customers.

I suspect car audio industry research tallies the average annual spending of customers. If that figure is only $100, at one new customer per week, you’d add an average of $5200 to your gross sales per year.

Your market is no different.

Has dealing with your store become so unremarkable that customers would rather pay for shipping and wait a few days?

Walking to Missoula

I was in a cloth store recently, buying some material so a local business owner could make some custom neckerchiefs for my Scouts.

They had less material than I needed. They offered to order more, advising me that it could take 3 to 6 weeks.

They didn’t mention their corporate-run online store. I checked it myself, finding an in-stock quantity of only three yards. That wasn’t how much the local store had, it indicated (incorrectly, I suspect) the corporate’s in-stock quantity.

Meanwhile, the Missoula store had plenty. I know this because the local store is advanced enough to be able to check this from their handheld terminals (nice!). When I asked them about getting it from Missoula, they said it would take “about 3 weeks”.

I can *walk* to and from Missoula in three weeks.

Trucking in the wrong direction

Recently I was outside of Missoula at a truck stop and bought a small toolkit for a task that had me sidelined on the road. As the cashier finished ringing it up, I realized I’d bought the wrong thing. Yes, my fault.

While standing at the counter, before the salesperson walked away, before picking the item up from the counter, while putting my wallet back in my pocket, I asked to return it, unopened.

Without a second’s delay, they said “We have a strict corporate return policy. No returns.” â?¨Even if the unopened item has never left the store, much less the cash register.

It’s early on Saturday evening and there is no weekend on-premises manager. She won’t be back until Monday and no one else is allowed to take responsibility.

Stunningly “customer-friendly”.

Earl Nightingale once said something like “To be successful, observe what the majority in your market are doing, then do the opposite”.

These are good examples of his advice.

2 replies on “What to do if you have too many customers”

hi Mark,
Your last story about the truck-stop cashier and their “no returns” policy is a “doozy”, but something tells me it’s unfortunately all too common. One would think that in this current economy, companies would focus a bit more on customer service, but that’s not what I’m seeing…
BTW, I like your quote by Earl Nightingale:
â??To be successful, observe what the majority in your market are doing, then do the oppositeâ?.
Steve, the trade show guru
.-= Steve, the Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..TradeShow Booth Babes =-.

Im seeing a mix, Steve. Even so, it surprises me that people arent busting their humps to keep their customers. Thanks for reading and commenting:)

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