Since it’s Small Business Week, I thought I’d take a moment to tip my hat to all the small business owners out there. I spent some time thinking about just why I love certain small businesses in my town, and came up with three reasons.
Have you ever been shopping with a three-year-old? There are a few things to know before you go. Be prepared to cut the trip short if he gets cranky. Don’t expect him to ride in a stroller – he thinks he’s too big. But don’t expect him to walk very far, either. Be prepared for lots of, “look how cool this bright shiny thing is! I need it, need it, need it!” And finally, either limit his beverage intake or know the location of every bathroom in every store and be prepared to visit all of them.
Shopping is considered an American pastime, with consumer spending accounting for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, according to a recent Reuters article. (1) And shopping can certainly be fun. But it can be stressful, too.
Several months ago, we’re sitting down to dinner and my daughter announces, “Oh, by the way, I need a shirt for the school program tomorrow.” What kind of shirt? “Well, it has to be red. And it has to have long sleeves. And it has to be plain—no decorations or cartoon characters or anything.” Oh. Well. Inhale that dinner and let’s get to the mall. I didn’t have anything important to do tonight anyway (so much for that writing deadline).
Monday’s article on customer service pointed out how important it is to have well thought out, intentional and genuine service. Lots of companies try to fake it, lots more just ignore it. But poor customer service isn’t just about rude employees and bad return policies. Sometimes a store’s integrated business practices can get in the way of providing a positive experience for shoppers.
Emory University reports that only about 4 percent of Americans suffer from full-blown claustrophobia. These people can experience panic attacks in close spaces such as elevators. I don’t consider myself to be one of the 4 percent of claustrophobic Americans, but an experience earlier this week made me think about personal space and crowding.
You might not think that a large department store would induce feelings of claustrophobia. Read More
Oh, my darling retail shops. You tease me with your fickle fervor. First you’re hot, then you’re cold. You make me perspire and bring a flush to my cheeks. Then your icy-hearted indifference blows chilly, freezing my fingers and nose and leaving me out in the cold.
Seriously. What is up with the crazy temperatures of stores? I went to the mall last weekend to do a bit of browsing and I was uncomfortable the whole time. I left without purchasing anything, mostly because I didn’t browse for long in any one store.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, approximately 28 million Americans suffer from a hearing impairment. This number has doubled during the last 30 years – partially due to an aging population, and partially due to the invention of the Walkman. OK, I made that last part up. But I’m here to tell you: lots of people my age suffer from Def Leppard concert-induced hearing loss. When I was in junior high school, all the cool kids got Walkmans for Christmas. I suppose my parents hoped that by purchasing a Walkman for me, I’d turn into one of the cool kids. That didn’t work so well, but I did manage to blast my ear drums with decibel levels high enough that I could drown out even my little sister’s loudest tantrums.
Everyone’s familiar with the term, Bait and Switch. And most people know that it’s illegal. The Federal Trade Commission defines this nefarious advertising technique as, “an alluring but insincere offer to sell a product or service which the advertiser in truth does not intend or want to sell.” There’s a fine line between illegal “bait and switch” and legal, but shady offers. Most companies don’t break the law, but many bump right up against it with the misguided notion that they’ll increase business by reeling in customers with a “free” offer they don’t really want to give. If you’re pushing the envelope on this technique, I’m here to tell you – your customers might not be able to sue, but they will tell others about their nasty experiences and hurt your business.
Do you have a stinky store or office? I know . . . it’s kind of a touchy subject. Like telling someone they have bad breath or body odor. But here’s the thing. If no one tells you that your store is odiferous, you might be wondering why business is so bad. Customers come in, but they don’t seem to linger. And they rarely buy. Maybe that’s because you’re making them sick with some kind of icky smell. I went to lunch with a friend last week who told me about her recent experience with a stinky office and we both realized that there are many stores that we avoid because they smell bad.
Last week, a toddler and her family were removed from a Jet Blue flight that was preparing for takeoff. The two-year-old had an ill-timed tantrum and initially refused to sit down and buckle up. Her parents finally calmed her down, but the pilot decided the presence of a tantrum-throwing toddler made the flight unsafe. Whether or not that was the right call is not my place to say. But I have to wonder what would happen to the airline industry if every screaming, unreasonable toddler was deemed a threat to security.