I've plowed my parking lot clean. I've held open the front door for my customer. I've greeted her with a genuine hello and thanks for coming in. I've avoided the dreaded Can I help you? phrase.
Those are the easy obstacles to remove.
The biggest obstacle is a lack of trust. A new customer sails in on cargo ship full of cynicism the first time she visits you.
It is easy to see why.
Many retailers, especially the biggest among us, have forsaken that trust time and time again. The bait & switch. The mark-it-up-to-mark-it-down. The everything-must-be-locked-because-we-think-you're-a-thief displays. The 4.5 font fine print. The No's (no returns, no refunds, no touching, no opening the package, no exceptions). The because-one-customer-burned-us-once-you-all-have-to-pay policies. The too-good-to-be-true offers that weren't. The defects. The lost orders. The wrong orders. The lack of trained employees. The lack of employees who care. The lack of employees, period.
The list goes on and on.
You might not do anything on that list, but your customer has experienced it somewhere so she believes every retailer is out to screw her either on purpose or through their own ineptness. That is her reality so that is her expectation.
THE BAR IS REALLY LOW
The only good news is that since her expectation is pretty low, it doesn't take much to exceed that expectation and start to build up that trust. The bad news is that it only takes one slip up, one time where you acted like all those other stores, for her to lump you in with the worst of them.
Even if you only do the most minimum of transgressions, you get treated like the worst offender ever. And unlike the big box stores, the indie retailer has to fight twice as hard for a second chance.
It makes you wonder why anyone would want to be in our profession in the first place.
Trust, however, is the single most powerful tool you can use to grow your business. Trust trumps sales and discounts because trust creates loyalty, customers that will pay your price and have your back at the same time. Trust trumps huge advertising campaigns because without trust, your message falls on deaf ears. Trust trumps technology because even the most advanced systems cannot fix a broken heart.
But Trust can be bought.
Tom Wanek wrote the defining book on the topic - Currencies That Buy Credibility. Over the next few posts, I'll show you how you can build trust in your customers' hearts by spending one of six different currencies Tom spells out in his book.
PS This Wednesday the students in my Jackson Retail Success Academy class will get all six currencies at once, along with a few other lessons on Marketing & Advertising. One of these days I'm going to get Tom up here to Jackson to talk about it directly. In the meantime, keep your eyes out for an announcement about how you can partake in shortened versions of JRSA later this year.