If Your Love Your Customers They Will Love You Back

Love your customers and they will love you back.

Loving your customers is good business.

Can you remember the time you were in a store, and it felt all warm and fuzzy?

If you believe that emotion is important in enjoying a store experience, you might be wondering why more stores don’t make you feel emotional. Stores like Build-A –Bear American Girl makes their customers smile and laugh. Both businesses know they’re not in the bear or doll business. They’re in the “warm and fuzzy” experience.

If we shop at a store that makes us feel good, we’re more than happy to tell our friends. Furthermore, word of mouth is the least-expensive kind of advertising. Before the internet, businesses relied on “word of mouth advertising.” But with the internet, businesses can reach more customers in a very short time; it’s become more like “world of mouth.”

Even little things make a lasting impression. A store that offers a cup of coffee, a place to sit or a toy to your child can make a difference to the shopping experience. Employees that care and have great personalities can interact in a way that creates a wonderful connection. Imagine a store that has a ‘bounce house.’

Retailers must be especially creative in finding ways to attract customers and encourage them to stay. The challenge for retailers is to find ways to entice savvy shoppers to stay longer without feeling they’ve wasted their time. If you can have a good time, you’re more than likely not to feel like your time’s been wasted.

Ways that you might invite your customers to be part of the store experience:

Offer guest blogging opportunities. It makes sense; you will benefit from free content for your blog and they’ll benefit from the link/love exposure.

Give them your business. If your customer also runs a business, when you can, reciprocate by giving them business.

Everyone is a VIP. How about a welcome package for those that come into your store or for those that buy your product? The hotels have welcome bags with cookies, bottle water and other freebies.

Own your customers voice. The only opinions that matter are those from your customer. Solicit feedback and let everyone in your organization know how your customer feels.

Create a ‘grandfather clause’ for your loyal customers. Customers who shop with you regularly should be given a ‘break’ on certain fees. This way customers will see the value of being a loyal customer.

Pay attention to your customer’s business. Provide social media recommendations; this is another way to spread the love. Show appreciation for their success and ideas. Social media is a great way to recognize them.

Be grateful because customers love companies with employees who not only say “thank you” but who are enthusiastic about saying it! Make ‘thank you’ a regular policy.

Don’t just talk business—become the customer’s friend. Find out about their interests and their life.

Remember, nothing happens without the customer.

Lisbeth Calandrino is associate publisher of Fabulous Floors Magazine and Social Media Manager.

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What’s Going On In The Construction Industry?

The construction industry is  booming in some areas and others it’s dead.

What’s a flooring contractor to do?

I decided to get an expert’s views on the subject and reached  out to Wes Morgan. Wes  is uniquely qualified having been a marketing communications specialist for the construction industry for many years. He has  contributed to successes at top contractors, including HBE, Clayco and Crossland Construction.

Wes’s career began as an  account manager at full service advertising firms, and has an MBA from the University of Miami (FL). In 2010,  Morgan started Morgan Studio/East to help clients plan, design and implement sustainable marketing communications programs.

 Wes, what’s your take on the construction industry?

It’s no secret that the construction industry continues to feel the pinch in both commercial and residential construction sectors. There are still bright spots for quality value-oriented partners, however. It isn’t as easy as looking projected growth areas anymore because the nature of building itself is evolving quickly. Winning business is getting tougher and tougher, and right now it’s a buyer’s market.

What should a business do whose livelihood depends on the home building market?

  1. It   makes sense to celebrate and document success stories. If you are in the flooring business, for example, show prospects the beauty and quality as it has been applied to a recent project. Include some metrics about savings and material. If your solution qualified for recognition within the LEED certification program outlined by the United States Green Buildings Council (USGBC), by all means, spell it out.
  2. Share best practices and key learning.An example of this might be the way you were able to collaborate with the design team. It might start with relationship building with an architecture firm but evolve into working with an integrated project delivery team or design-build partnership. Be patient and realize it is all about getting the best value and best solution for the owner and/or developer.
  3. Be willing to offer alternatives and explain the potential impact on the life-cycle and sustainability of the building.
  4. Energy, air quality, water use, materials and event orientation of the structure relative to the sunshine and climate can have an impact on the life cycle of a structure. Again, the USGBC offers a great basis for considering these factors over the projected life-cycle of the structure. If you can offer an intelligent and rational approach to your portion of a project whether it be residential or commercial you will be viewed as viewed as a contributor looking for smart longer term solution. Pay attention to green building options and cost implications short-term and longer term as well.
  5. Finally, find ways to work with project delivery methods and owner/developer goals.
  6. Listen carefully. Most building initiatives will come down to just a few key areas. Cost, safety, quality, investment value (short and longer term) and schedule. The team and approach to project delivery will offer clues and set the tone that should be consistent with the owner/developer plans. Construction is still a highly fragmented industry, but it is reasonable to expect integrated approaches to design, engineering and building to continue.

What’s the best thing a flooring contractor can do these days considering the housing market?

The selection of a flooring contractor can depend on a number of factors. Is it a fast-track project with a tight budget? Is it a project that is attempting to achieve LEED certification? Is it an upscale retail environment? Is it a functional/utilitarian structure (i.e. hospital or hotel)? Is the project a commercial tenant infill or build-out? Case histories and/or testimonials can help a flooring contractor establish that they are a good fit with the project type and/or project delivery method.

Sitting around waiting for the market to change is never a good idea. This is the time to start blogging and blowing your own horn.

I know that builders want to deliver projects and earn satisfied customers. The best thing a flooring contractor can do is to be ready with answers/options and evidence of success.

Ultimately, it is about matching aesthetics, durability, functionality, cost and value with the project objectives. (Easier said than done, I know.)

Wes Morgan  can be reached at Morgan Studio/East, MorganWes@aol.com