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Ken Keller: A guide help to sell more groceries, or anything else

Brain Food for Business Owners

Posted: April 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.

I’ve heard from a reliable source that one of most ardent readers of The Signal uses this weekly column to educate his
management team.

His company is both well known and well respected in Southern California. I have been shopping at one of their supermarkets for
more than 20 years.

It was not a good initial experience.

When I first moved into the neighborhood, I headed to the store to fill up the refrigerator with something more substantial than beer, milk and ice cream. The pantry was also bare so the shopping cart was filled with paper goods, staples, canned and frozen foods.

That first foray through the checkout aisle and register cost me considerably more than $200, and I did not receive so much as a “thank you” for laying out my very hard-earned cash.

The next day, I hand-wrote a note to the manager at the store stating how displeased I was at the lack of manners displayed. I included the receipt as evidence of my visit.

Fortunately for that store, I got past my shock and anger at how rude the person was to me. I never did hear from the store manager.

In the more than 22 years of shopping at that location, I conservatively estimate my family has spent over $250,000 there.

Since that January 1990 shopping trip I have learned a great deal about business, management, human resources, leadership, customer service, revenue, gross profits, net profits, personality types, family business dynamics and many other topics I write about weekly.

This article isn’t just about how to sell more groceries, it is about how to sell more of anything.

While people shop at various places for various reasons, including price, location, convenience, brand and loyalty, people spend more money when there is a positive relationship between supplier and customer.

Strong relationships develop when there are positive experiences on both sides.

This is what brands strive to do: establish and build a relationship using positive experiences to increase sales and strengthen the binds. The trust continues, or is lost, based on how the brand treats the user.

Positive experiences are like money in the bank; it means more cash is likely to change hands, positive word of mouth and long-term loyalty established.

Many of us will never buy a certain make of car, go to a specific restaurant, visit a city or fly an airline because “the brand” disappointed us.  We had a less than stellar and perhaps a lousy experience, often more than once.

If you want to sell more of anything, improve the buying experience.

In a grocery store, it is not only the relationship with the brand name of the store or the products sold, but with the people who work there; the people who interact with the customers.

A smile goes a long way to establishing a relationship. Who can’t afford to share a smile?

Saying “hello” or “good morning” isn’t just being nice, it is a greeting of familiarity.

Telling a customer “thank you for shopping with us” is a pleasant way to end a shopping experience. Not doing it might cost a lifetime customer worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The enduring vision I have of the movie “All That Jazz” are numerous scenes of Roy Scheider standing in front of his bathroom mirror, suffering a hangover, having showered and shaved. He lifts his head, smiles and says out loud, “It’s show time, folks!”

If you want to generate more revenue, make sure everyone on your team, at every position, realizes it is show time, all the time.
Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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