Getting customers through the door

One of the things I’m always advising my clients on is the importance of getting customers through the door in the first place. This is one of the most important parts of any retail business. In fact, it’s one of the most important parts of any business, even if your door is a virtual door.

In retail you want people to build up the habit of shopping with you. Repeat customers – we all love them. And they’re never going to get the habit if they don’t get started.

It’s actually quite difficult for a customer to go into a shop for the first time. We’re strange folk, us humans, and we’re not that far evolved from our days running around on the savannah and living in caves. We don’t like new things. We don’t like new places. There’s a faint unease about going into a shop for the first time. Don’t just take my word for it, read Paco Underhill’s brilliant Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping*, where he shares years of research into customer behaviour.

Your new customer’s first steps

Here are some ideas for encouraging people to take their first steps. And when you read these, if you’re thinking, “I can’t possibly do that”, then have a wee think about how much that customer is worth. How much are they worth if you can get them in the habit of spending regularly with you? Two ice creams per month for 8 months of the year, a coffee every weekday, two new pairs of shoes per year… add it up and your lifetime customer spend is probably well worth your customer acquisition cost.

This also applies if you are not a retailer, but sell online, or you’re a consultant, plumber, bookkeeper or anything else in the world. We all need to think carefully about getting customers to come in and say hello because it’s only then that they might buy something from us.

Top tips for getting customers through the door

Give them a free lunch – I helped a client do this recently. He did a flyer handout at local offices giving a free lunch (if you bought a coffee) and had a 500% upturn in customer numbers. The next week, lots of those people turned up and paid real money for a lunch.

Open the door – Sounds obvious, but too many places make me push the door open. Just this act can make it easier for a potential customer to walk in. This is a summer thing in the UK; you don’t want to freeze in winter or pay to heat the street (as my granny would say), so find other ways to make it easy for them to physically come in. An all glass door, a sign saying, “Come in, we’re lovely”, oiling the hinges… make it easy peasy for them.

Talk to your neighbours – You know all those other shops in the same street as you… they’re your best friends. Make sure that they know exactly what you sell, give them free samples, get them to try things out, show them the new stock you want to sell. Then they’ll have the ammunition to send their customers round to your shop as well, therefore doubling (well nearly) the number of people coming through your door.

Smile – You’d be amazed how many shops I go into where no-one smiles at me. If someone came round to your house, you’d smile and say “hello”. You wouldn’t just expect them to mooch around and have a look at your CD collection. Make people feel welcome, and make sure that they know that you’re the person who is there to help.

Engage people beforehand – Talk to your customers. Talk to people on Facebook and Twitter, so they know you, your shop, and what you sell before they come in. This will help them to feel that it’s okay to come through the door because they’ve already formed a relationship with you. It takes away the fear factor. And of course, then you can stay in touch with them, and tell them about all the brilliant new stuff they’d like to buy, but that’s a different blog.

Want some more ideas? Want some help?

If you’d like some more help with getting customers into your shop/restaurant/website/consultancy, then do get in touch and see how I might be able to help.

*affiliate link so I earn millions of pennies from Amazon

Photo credit – getting customers through the door by JC