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Behind the Counter: For Openers

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Five greetings that boost sales to walk-in visitors.

Quick, what’s the typical greeting used most often by most tire retailers? You’re right if you guessed, “Can I help you?” The way you and your front line employees greet walk-in customers has a huge impact on your bottom line. Here are some tips to ensure that you and your employees greet customers in a way that makes them want to buy and keep coming back.

1. Show that you recognize them 
If you deal with customers, the two most important words are not “please” or “thank you,” but your customer’s first and last names. If you don’t remember the customer’s name, you need to at least let them know that you recognize them and are happy to see them.

So an effective greeting would be, “Well, Hello! It’s nice to see you again.” Customers return to secure, friendly environments. Show that you recognize them, and they’ll want to come back.

2. Ask if they’ve been in before
One of the best money making greetings is, “Hi, have you been here before?” Michael Gerber, author of the best seller, The E-myth, says that his clients who have switched from, “Can I help you?” to this greeting have seen sales increase by 16 percent.

While Gerber claims to have no idea why this works so well, I think it’s because this greeting reminds the customer that they’ve been at your business before, so it’s a familiar place. Familiar means safe. Safe means trust. And trust means buy.

With this greeting the employee can also add, “Welcome back. We appreciate your coming to see us again.” That provides that all-important recognition. They can ask the customer about what tires they bought on their last visit and how they like them. That provides the opportunity to provide positive reinforcement and/or clear up any concerns.

If this is the visitor’s first visit, then the employee has a great excuse to show them around, identify needs and point out specials.

3. Ask about the weather
I realize the weather is an often-used topic, but it’s disarming, and gets the customer talking about something where they can be the expert. The critical step that’s often missed is you need to respond to the customer’s comments. That shows that you’re listening—not just ‘techniquing’ them. Once you’ve addressed their comments, you can then transition from the weather to identifying their needs.

4. Compliment appropriately
Be careful with this one. If you do it wrong, you’ll be construed as being a phony and will lose the most important thing you need to sell—trust. So don’t offer a general compliment such as, “Don’t you look good today.” Instead make sure your compliment is relevant and specific.

5. Use a conversation piece
Interesting artwork, a talking parrot, or anything you place near your entrance that draws comment is great. It gets the customer talking, questioning and interested.

Timing is everything
More important than what you say is the fact that the visitor is acknowledged—not necessarily served—the moment they enter. One study revealed that 68 percent of customers who leave do so because they feel like no one cares that they’re there. Picture entering an establishment waiting to be served. Then use your watch to count off 30 seconds. You realize that even half a minute is too long to wait.

The Five Worst Greetings
1. A stare—like employees are watching to see if you’re going to steal something.
2. The daze—they pretend they’re so busy they can’t see you.
3. “Can I help you?”
4. “Next!”
5. A canned phony sounding speech.

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october, 2021

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