Western & English Today

FAL 2012

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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T oday, someone will likely come into your store for the very first time. She (or he) will form her first impression of your shop. She will be greeted for the first time, see your merchandise for the first time and, if things go well, make her very first purchase. Congratulations! You've just gained a new customer. Now, here's the million-dollar question: What are you going to do to keep her coming back for more? It's an absolutely critical question to consider. Repeat business is not just the icing on the cake, it's your store's bread, butter, meat and potatoes. It will see you through the inevitable ups and downs of business and provide exponential returns over the years. Whether you call it customer retention, customer loyalty or simply relationship-building, it is vital to develop a strategy so you don't lose the very customers you worked so hard to get. Te tough economy makes the task all the more difficult. Tanks to the pace of technology and social media, shoppers are bombarded by messages from your competitors and with tightened budgets to consider, they may be tempted to simply opt for the cheapest price. This means it is essential to create a customer-retention plan. It needn't be overly costly, time-consuming or difficult. Our nine tips are actually common sense ideas that merely require a slightly different perspective: You must see the world through your customers' eyes. 1.) First Impressions Last. The very simplest customer-retention strategy that you can implement is to make sure your first contact with shoppers is friendly and positive. Don't leave this step to chance. Train your front line in the manner you'd like them to greet customers, answer the telephone and interact with shoppers as they shop in your store. 2.) Create a Place "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." The familiar words from the theme song to Cheers are a good reminder of one element that keeps your customer coming back time and again. People crave connection and recognition. "We try to greet our shoppers by name after just a visit or two," says Shari Ross, owner of Tough Luck Cowboy, in Boulder, Colo. "I like to make people feel like they are a guest in my home. I'm the host and I want to establish a warm, comfortable friendship as soon as possible." Above from left: Scott Hartle from Rod's Western Palace, Melissa Benge from Gunslinger and David Isham from David's Western Wear 20 Western & English Today Gunslinger in Bandera, Texas, has noticed a strong correlation between having 3.) longtime sales associates and long-term customers. "Believe it or not, retaining employees helps retain customers," observes Benge. FALL 2012 Deputize Your Employees. Melissa Benge, owner of Carol Gustafson

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