museums&MORE Spring 2013
Editor’s Letter: Reality Retail

I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is watching food shows like Kitchen Nightmares” and “Restaurant Impossible” where the hosts go into an establishment, assess what’s operationally wrong and offer their tips for success.

Part of my interest is that it’s food-oriented and the fact that these places are usually train wrecks that I can’t look away from, but it’s also often an interesting study in what to do and not to do to for success.

While some of the problems that exist revolve around horrid food and cleanliness, at the base of the failure is often a management issue that the owners fail to address. As they say, “it all starts at the top.” If the boss can’t get all his/her ducks in row, how can employees expect to excel?

It was during a recent episode that the host said something that clicked with me and that I find applicable in many arenas: “The customer can go anywhere for pizza. What will keep them here is personality.”

Whether you’re slinging pies or specialty gift items, you have to make yourself — and your service — stand out, and that service starts at the top. Customers can essentially get shop anywhere, including big-box stores, so you have to give them a reason to come and return to your store.

That sounds like common sense, but as these TV shows often reveal, common sense often slips through the cracks. It can be easy to get too comfortable with the way things are done, to forget that each customer that walks through the door is seeing most things with new eyes.

That person in front of you with a credit card isn’t simply a transaction, but rather someone who is integral to the success of your business. While they might just be at your destination for a visit, think about how many times they might shop throughout the year for gifts for friends and family — birthday, holidays, etc. It’s not just selling them an item, it’s selling them on the idea of your personal service.

It’s up to you to make their experience one they will remember — encourage employees to ask them their name, what occasion they’re shopping for, any fun plans they might have. Make the customer, not the sale, the focus and conduct yourself as if each day were recorded on a hidden camera.

Would your employees be proud of their work?

Would you?

By Abby Heugel

Managing Editor

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