Company Doctor Prescribes Cure for Foot Traffic Ills

Discussion
Jan 26, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


So you want to open a store and you want to drive repeat traffic once those doors are swung open?


Well, syndicated columnist Scott Clark, aka The Company Doctor, has some advice in an article found on the Arizona Business Gazette web site.


According to Mr. Clark, there are six keys to ensuring continued traffic after your grand opening.



  1. Give shoppers a reason to give you more information.

    Offer discounts or some other perk on repeat trips if shoppers will provide you with personal information. (Don’t forget to mention your privacy clause.)

  2. Promote, promote, promote.

    Once customers are in the store, make sure you do step 1.

  3. Publicity works.

    Find newsworthy aspects about your business and get coverage that doesn’t involve spending ad dollars. Remember that newspapers, radio stations, et al are businesses too. You’re
    more likely to get coverage if you give (advertise) as well as receive (publicity).

  4. Make use of your database.

    There is a reason you’ve been doing step 1. Glean insights from the information you’ve gathered. Stay in contact with your most important customers.

  5. Conduct workshops.

    If you have specialized expertise, have your employees and/or suppliers conduct free workshops. Remember to promote these events in-store and through other consumer communications.

  6. Stay committed to customer service.

‘Nuff said.

Moderator’s Comment: What advice do you have for new retail business owners who are looking to drive initial and repeat traffic to their stores?

George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "Company Doctor Prescribes Cure for Foot Traffic Ills"


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Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Most retail stores are me-too copies of other stores easily reached nearby. The merchandise and services are too similar to competitors. New business owners-to-be should ask themselves these 2 questions: (1) What will be my competitive “moat” (a truly sustainable competitive advantage) and (2) Am I really different from what’s out there already? If these 2 issues were resolved properly new retail openings would plummet 99%.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Sorry but I’m still against trying to persuade customers to part with personal information and then mining it. You can find out enough about their likes and dislikes without that and avoid antagonising them into the bargain. I am also vehemently against devaluing products and services through discounting and bribery. If you are selling something you ought to believe in it and focus on demonstrating that conviction, not starting out by cutting back or attempting to get more commitment from customers than you’re prepared to make yourself.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
15 years 1 month ago
I don’t want to read too much into the order of the list, nor do I want to assume that Scott Clark does or does not know the difference between customer service and customer focus. I caution all of us to watch making such assumptions as we discuss these topics — I believe I have seen that our comments on these discussions can be quite surprisingly uninformed, and I think it more wise for us to point out the options rather than criticize for what we ASSUME was meant. So that leaves me here: God is in the details. I think every one of these things is a terrific idea, but how you implement them (what order, what steps you take, what you think each one means, etc.) is the key. Our studies have looked into how retailers try to make improvements, and we’ve found that almost all of them read/listen to general principle-type articles and books and discussions — but see how few of them operate at a high level! We have found that,… Read more »
George Anderson
Guest
George Anderson
15 years 1 month ago

The consumer focus is absolutely essential especially in smaller communities. Even your friends (and family in some instances) in small towns won’t come back to your business if you don’t provide them with enough reasons.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Staying customer focused is the most important priority; however that wasn’t on the list. The end of the list said customer service. They aren’t the same thing and if the company thinks they are, they have already made a fatal mistake. Companies must identify their most valuable consumers and learn as much as possible about them realizing that consumers won’t give information unless they get something in return. Who are those consumers and what do they want?

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
Mr. Clark is talking motherhood and apple pie here mostly, but I’m also concerned he may have his priorities out of order. Pursuing intensive fact-gathering on first-time customers may send the wrong message. Customers know their personal data are valuable, and they expect to receive value in exchange. Furthermore, they share private information in anticipation that the institution will use it in acceptable ways. Where there is no track record, there is little confidence. A new retail store should not expect to assemble detailed profiles on each new customer on the first visit. The process is intrusive and it signals customers that they are regarded first and foremost as entries in the database. Just because a customer makes a purchase does not mean he or she wants to tell you the names and ages of their children. The first step in relationship building should be simple capture of a name and email address. Customers can be invited to share more about themselves incrementally over time, as the retailer successfully demonstrates the value it offers in… Read more »
Marc Drizin
Guest
Marc Drizin
15 years 1 month ago
I sure hope that list from the Company Doctor isn’t in any particular order, or perhaps the most important step was saved for last. Being “customer focused” is the single strongest driver of customer loyalty in the retail industry, more important than the brand, the overall quality of the retailer, the reputation of the organization, the overall cost of the product or service, even more important than “the value equation.” Less than one in three customers strongly agree that the retailer they purchase from is easy to do business with and cares about them as a customer, so is it all that surprising that only three in ten would not consider a competing offer from another retailer? I’m all for marketing, and that’s what the good doctor is talking about in steps 1-5. However, most retailers don’t struggle with getting customers to walk through their front door, it’s figuring out how to make sure they don’t run out the back door to one of their competitors that occupies a good bit of their time. By… Read more »
Albert Plant
Guest
Albert Plant
15 years 1 month ago

All of the above are interesting but we forget that the first customer is our staff. Arthur Martinez put it better than anyone, and he did a ton of research to reach this conclusion:

– If we can make this retail enterprise a compelling place for our staff to work,

– Then our customers will find it a compelling place to shop,

-And our investors will find it a compelling place to invest.

These are not his actual words but they’re close. It applies to privately held companies as well as publicly held. Why should an owner throw capital at upgrades and new stores if he isn’t seeing financial results from the above process at work?

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