A Tale of Two Bike Shops.

I bought a new bike in June of this year.  The start of my goal to get more fit.  I was on my way back home a couple of days ago and was looking for a frame pump for my bike.

Coincidentally, there was a bike shop – one that I had never been in – right on the way home.  So I stopped and went inside.  The owner was sitting in the back at a desk working on something.  He never looked up so I had to go stand at the desk and wait for him.  When he did look up, no hello, no smile.

Not to be deterred, I tried to engage him in a conversation with a discussion about different frame pumps.  He pointed at the wall, told me that is what he has in stock and went back to his work.

Compare that to my regular bike shop.  I turned around and went to their store.  When I got there, a sales person greeted me and told me to let her know if I needed any help.  After asking about various frame pumps, she talked me through each one, explaining the good and the bad.  I left there as a very happy customer, frame pump in hand.

This story is a great real example of how we need to treat our customers.  Too often, the store owner forgets that his goal is to be financially successful by treating his customers well.  You all know business people that are suffering and tell you “it’s the economy,” or “my bank won’t lend money,” or “people just aren’t spending money.”

Here are some thoughts:

  • With unemployment at 8.2%, that means 91.8% of people are employed.  You have access to plenty of customers.
  • People are more careful with their money today.  That means if someone is interested in your product, you need to treat them like gold.
  • Everyone in the supply line is scared.  You will be doing yourself a huge favor by treating your vendors and your employees like your best customer.
  • The phrase needs based selling has been flying around the internet.  You need to look that up and study the concepts.  You will not be successful if you don’t follow sales rules in today’s environment.
  • Go into an appliance store and let a salesman engage you.  Measure who much he/she talks versus how much you talk.  The more you talk the more successful that sales person is because he is trying to solve your problem, not tell you what you should buy.  Ask yourself this:  do you talk more or listen more?
  • In every town, there is a business just like yours that is very successful.  Stop by and see what they are doing that you aren’t.  Don’t reinvent the wheel, learn from the best.

I have the huge advantage of seeing how different companies operate.  I am retained to fix broken companies and be a part of very successful companies looking to grow.  The reasons for success versus less successful is always internal behaviors – not external forces.  Those good companies are in that constant pursuit of presenting a great product to those customers whose life will be better off because they purchased the product.  They are not chasing the almighty dollar, they are trying to satisfy their customer’s needs.  They know the money will follow.

I look at my own business.  When my sales are down and I do the analysis, it is always because I have dropped the ball in some way.  Mostly it is that I have not properly communicated the value of my product (me!) to my customer.  When I get this back on track, I am back on track.

If you are struggling, that is OK.  There is help – you just have to reach out and ask for it.

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