Yes, I know: the economy is tricky right now, and people are more price-sensitive (if not more price-obsessive) than ever before. That said, there are ways to create customer loyalty and still maintain the credo, “It’s not all about price.”
Let’s consider that some of the upscale restaurants nationwide are reporting that 2010 was a banner year. The average tab was a bit lower, but the numbers of people dining out (and the profitability) were the highest they’ve been since 2008.
Or Whole Foods. Nobody can say they’re a discounter, but have you ever been in a Whole Foods when they’re not busy?
So the fact of the matter is simply this: even when times are challenging, it’s not all about price.
I’ve been in stores where the employees were rude. They won’t see me again. And then there are the employees at Whole Foods. How does your training compare to theirs? As sure as you’re reading this, when you invest a few dollars in employee training, your ROI is at least tenfold.
Do your employees recognize customers as they walk in the door? Do they remember their names? You’re in a business where, more than most retailers, you cater to customers in a club-like environment. Your customers know and travel with one another. Your employees, themselves enthusiastic divers, accompany them. That’s a winning combination. How well are you leveraging these circumstances?
Perhaps your customers are considering being frugal by eliminating one diving trip this year. Maybe you can help them achieve their diving “fix” by scheduling events that are closer to home, even chartering busses (and building them into the trip costs, of course). Relieve customers of their potential guilt at spending megabucks. No airfare and no gas can certainly help keep prices reasonable.
People can unwind just by being at your place for a couple of hours. They can fantasize about their next diving trip.
How much do your customers enjoy being in your shop? With travel posters lining the walls and on easels, with a plethora of diving books and magazines, you have the opportunity to be a great stress-reducer. People can unwind just by being at your place for a couple of hours. They can fantasize about their next diving trip. Are you helping them save for it, so they can make that trip sooner rather than later?
Customer loyalty begins with customer engagement. How often do you hold store events? How do you thank those who attend and stay in touch with those who don’t? If you call and say you missed them, you’ll make your customers feel very important. Do they get that feeling elsewhere?
When your customers return from your diving trips, are their photos on your website? How about on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter? What opportunities are you giving your customers to show off their smiles and tans to their friends and colleagues?
I’ve said this at your past two annual conferences: scuba diving is the only sport I know that combines warm weather, sun, surf, palm trees, beach, athletics, exercise, outdoors, networking, romance, sex and great food in the same place at the same time. Let 2011 be the year you make these incredible advantages work for you and your business!