Meg on Marketing: What’s Your Handicap?

Meg on Mkt sept 11 2013

Golf is a game that people either love or hate. A lot of money is spent by players at every level trying to improve their game. A serious golfer will use any tool, gimmick or gadget to enhance his swing or improve his distance. Most of these tools actually work to give the golfer an edge and help him to achieve better results.

Aren’t we looking for the same edge in business? Business owners are always searching for ways to improve their operations, grow their customer base and increase revenue—much like the golfer trying to improve his handicap. Any new knowledge, tool or technique the business can use to improve its game can make a big impact on the company’s bottom line.

One of the important tools available to businesses is mystery shoppers. When your frame sales are lagging and the business is not generating the income it once was, it’s time to step back and take a look at your business from a fresh perspective. There may be any number of reasons for slow sales, and mystery shopping can provide important insight as to how your business is really doing. It gives you an objective evaluation of your company’s strengths and weaknesses and if the tools you’re using are, in fact, working to improve your game.

Whether you hire a professional mystery shopper or you’re successful in persuading your cousin Tom to do it for you, the shopper’s attention should be directed to areas that generate the most revenue for your store.

Customer Service

When customers call for the first time, who answers the phone? How do they handle the potential business? Are they knowledgeable? Is their speech clear and inviting? Do they sound like they want the business? Can they provide clear directions to your location? At the sales counter, is the salesperson friendly and helpful? Are they dressed professionally? Are their suggestions and frame designs up to standard? Can the salesperson list the product benefits? Do they sound rehearsed or relaxed and confident? How is customer’s artwork being handled? Does the salesperson go out of their way for the customer? Are they able to close the sale? Your salespeople are the key factor in generating sales. If they are unwilling or unable to close the sale and get the order, changes may need to occur. Mystery shopping can reveal information about the store’s level of customer service—and that is critical to your business’ success.

Appearance

When a customer drives up to your storefront what do they see? Does your store have easy-to-read signage? Are the signs well-lit and free from overgrown landscaping? Are your signs visible from the main road? Is your parking area clean? If your store looks dumpy or is in need of paint and repairs, customers will likely pass it by on their way to your competition. When inside, what does the customer see? Is the store neat and tidy? Are the wall displays fresh and interesting? Are the floors clean or is it obvious it hasn’t seen a vacuum in weeks? Can you see customer’s artwork stacked up behind the counter? Is artwork being stored properly?

The information gained from a mystery shopper not only provides feedback on how your business is functioning but, more importantly, it can become a valuable training tool. It not only reveals the negative weaknesses in your company but it can also point out the positive strengths as well. The evaluation can provide the owner with areas of focus for sales training, goal setting, employee incentive plans and bonus schedules for employees that exceed your expectations.

Mystery shopping can provide owners with an eye-opening perspective of your business and salespeople. Roy Smith said, “The successful man is the one who finds out what’s wrong with his business before his competitors do.” Any business owner knows that is so true. Staying on top of your game requires owners to use any tool available, just like a golfer trying to improve his handicap. From the knowledge and insights gained from a fresh perspective, you can ultimately increase your revenue and take a few strokes off your score.

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