To welcome someone doesn’t mean making them feel
threatened, embarrassed, or ignored!
It never ceases to amaze me. With retail struggling to stay alive, small competing with large, trying to be an ‘experience’ while still selling their wares, we aren’t doing a very good job of creating a welcoming conversation.
Imagine having a party at your home. Folks arrive at your door. You don’t get up from the couch. Instead you say, “Hey, come on in.” You don’t invite them to sit. You don’t tell them where to put their coats, where the bathroom is, where the food and drink might be. You don’t introduce them to anyone or let them know that so-and-so is downstairs at the ping pong table. Nope, don’t get up.
RIGHT! I’m guessing not many folks would return for another party.
So what can you do? It’s not difficult. Try this:
Hi, welcome to (your store). My name is (your name). If I can be of help as your browsing, just give me a shout!
Granted, that’s pretty basic. In our community of Havre de Grace which has a good deal of tourist traffic, you could add something like:
What brought you into Havre de Grace today? Oh… well then, welcome to the neighborhood. (or you might ask …) Which end of town did you come in from?
The above questions lead to conversations. Are they visiting someone, here for an event, found us off I-95? Or did they attend an event at one of the museums and came into our historic downtown to have lunch/dinner; then you can help guide them to other places of interest. Maybe they arrived downtown first, you can also let them know about our parks, museums, events, etc.
No, you don’t need to tell them everything about our city. No, you don’t necessarily need to greet them at the door or shake hands. But you can step out from behind the counter. Turn to them and truly take a moment to acknowledge them. Nope, you don’t have to super-sell. But making a person feel welcome, visible, is such a great feeling. If you start a ‘conversation,’ you have an opportunity to learn a bit about them and offer things in Havre de Grace (or your community), and yes, in your shop that may be of interest. This builds a relationship. You also become their ‘go-to’ favorite store for information. Even better, they like and trust you. I can’t think of a better way to start a relationship and, hopefully, earn a long-time customer.
Bob Phibbs, better know as “The Retail Doctor”, offers great suggestions in his post and references a few others. So get busy and improve that welcoming conversation! And, by the way, my name is Ellie!