When Jane and I decided to take our biennial holiday back in Sedona the natural wonders were the main attraction in our minds. In order to make the decision to travel so far and make the significant investment there were other considerations at play. We love the walks, the hikes and the countless photo ops that occur at each turn. All very good reasons. Within a few short hours of arriving we reminded of the other important consideration … virtually every person in retail in this region makes you feel welcome, and valued. We found this in grocery stores and higher end & souvenir shops.
The most common opening line is “Hi, you folks from this area or are you visiting?” If you say you are a visitor, the next question is “and where are you visiting from?” These two simple questions not only open a world of conversation they also establish a “friend” relationship. Even the checkout lady at the supermarket was pleased to have that friendly chat during the check out process.
To their credit, even when you are just browsing they are more than ready to “thank you for coming.” What impresses you is that just about every person you meet has signed up for this “welcome visitor” attitude. I’m not going to say every person is like that … hey, we did come across one or two who were not happy in their work and, unfortunately, the attitude carries across to customers.
How do you get an entire community/region to subscribe to this attitude? Sure, you can attend Disney retailing rah, rah workshops and similar events but if you can’t communicate that to everyone in your place of business it won’t work. Certainly, it starts with the hiring process. If you’re going to put someone in front of customers you want to start with someone who likes people and finds delivering on peoples’ needs a rewarding experience. And we’re not just talking about salary.
If a visitor thinks you are interested, engaged and having “fun” in your job they are more likely to spend additional time in your place of business and, therefore, more likely to make a purchase. If you can’t be that sort of person at the very least be involved in their visit while they are in the store. Treating customers as they are an interference in YOUR day not only turns people off it ensures that they will likely as not tell other people about the poor experience. To paraphrase a saying attributed to Tolstoy .. “happy businesses all look the same, but an unhappy business is unique in its own distress.”
Sedona merchants definitely contribute to making a visit a very happy holiday. Thank you all.