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WHY Do Customers Think of You?

What do customers think of you?

While they probably don’t just sit around and actually think much about the companies they do business with, consumers generally form specific opinions about stores over time and exposure to marketing messages, personal experience, and what they hear from others.

Whatever value equation a company brand has established with a consumer, unless it is a discount brand, it is lowered by constantly promoting deals and discounts on what customers already want to buy. These discounts do more than cost money. They also make it easy for the customer to categorize in their mind what type of retailer each store is to them. And once they’ve chosen the category, it is very difficult to change their perceptions.“I love it there.” – There is consistency between their marketing messages, the place, unique and exciting merchandise, and personal service.

“They’re on my way.” – All garden centers can win by default of the convenience of their location with some consumers. More heavily populated locations cost more for a reason.

“They take care of me.”The store and merchandise are not so exciting but they know me and do their best to find what I need and want.

“They have everything you could want.” – This store is may not be exciting, be particularly friendly, have the best service, or be convenient, but they have everything I could possibly want.

“They have GREAT DEALS!” – Consumers are excited and often shop and buy only when what they already want is on sale.  The long-term implication can be costly.

The cost of how your customers thinks of you goes up as the reason they think of you goes down on this list.

Nearly all stores have a few customers who “love it there”, but do you have enough of them?

Can you work your company to the top of the list? Can you get more customers to “love it there”? How will you go about doing that?

Why will your customers defend you, and tell others about you?

Positive word of mouth is dependent on reasons to talk about a business. More than we know, customers come to the defense of a company they do business with. Or, they may add fuel to the flame when they hear someone else complain about a store.

Similar to the above reasons why customers shop with you, the cost of these reasons goes up as the reasons they would talk about you go down the list.

“You’ll love shopping there.”

“They’re on your way.”

“They’ll take great care of you too.”

“They have everything you could possibly want.”

“They have great deals and the lowest prices.”

Can you work yourself to the top of the list of reasons why customers would recommend you? Can you get more customers to tell their friends, neighbors, and relatives “you’ll love it there”?

Ask your customers why they think of you.

Ask your customers why they tell people to come to you.

Review your customers answers to these questions an upcoming staff meeting. Then you’ll know…

Why your customers think of you.

And why they tell people to come to you.

It won’t be because they perceive you have the same wide selection and healthy plants that they expect you and everyone else to have. It won’t be for customer service they expect everywhere, even if yours is better. And for your financial health, it had better not be because you have the lowest prices.

Naturally, once you know why they think of you and why they tell people to come to  you you’ll want to figure out how to move more of your customers to the top of each of these lists.

And then actually do those things.


7 Responses

  1. Perhaps too many of the independents grew up with customers who didn’t have many alternatives (“they’re on my way”) and then were frightened into competing with the big boxes (“they have great deals”). Pricing is an important factor — customers are always aware of prices — but it can’t be the only factor. No one ever says of the big boxes “I love it there.” But the expectations are higher, too. It’s not enough to provide merely serviceable restrooms or merely adequate parking. Customer love demands more.

  2. Thanks for commenting Elizabeth. Perfectly said, “It’s not enough to provide merely serviceable restrooms or merely adequate parking. Customer love demands more.” I’ll be quoting you!

  3. I send a hand-written “thank you” note to each customer for each sale every time. I genuinely appreciate them. It takes time, but seems like my customers genuinely appreciate the notes. Some say so.

    I’m not consistent with follow-up. I’d like to call all of them occasionally to inquire how their plants or products are holding up. I call a few. It’s a bit frightening to do so. I could get an ear-full. But then I’d know better what to fix. Perhaps I should outsource some of my repetitive tasks and spend a large part of the day on the phone.

    Like you said, Sid, “And then actually do those things.”

  4. John you are right on the mark. So many will say, “That is physically impossible. It is impractical. How can you agree with him on that.” I say, “you’ll never have enough staff UNTIL you sell enough stuff.” You have to decide if you’re serious enough about your customers or if your attention will be divided among everything that has to be done instead of focusing on THE ONE THING that MUST be done that pays for everything else anyway. With only our divided attention to customers they can only pay for so much. Think about it! And take a dare. Click HERE to check out our Client Advantage program. It’s a great path for actually doing this.

  5. In a dissuccion the other day it dawned on me why perhaps facebook and the other social media have grown so fast.

    The families are gone – uncles, aunts, brothers sisters etc where you would play games call up every day and basically the family was your social network. I believe for some time folks have been looking for an easy fast way to do this. High speed internet came along, smart phones came along, and now we have facebook and twitter and you tube.

    We are social creatures. I believe 75% of us have a natural personality of a relator or socializer. This is genetically higher in women.

    One question may be how do we make the shopping experience in our garden centers more of a social event or how do we host social events.

  6. Send invitations Ed. Tweet up, Facebook Meet-up. Invite them to come! Let us know how it goes.

  7. I do not believe facebook or twitter are the answers. We are using them but Bell Nursery is running the facebook account for some of its vendors and I am sure other large growers will be managing the facebook and twitter pages for their clients.

    It really comes down to the ability to create personal relationships.

    The reason tupperware was so succesful is because you were buying from a friend at the parties. You certainly could buy it cheaper at the store.

    Perhaps it is time to figure out ways to have more buying parties at the store.

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