What is the secret to staying in business? Knowing that loyal customers are golden! J&L Hardware owner Larry Finley will tell you 3 things that have allowed him to continue serving customers for over 50 years. While other hardware companies have been swallowed up by the big box discount stores, his store has remained successful and profitable by building on loyal customers.
1. a personal touch
2. the ” flow “
3. ability to solve problems
The personal touch is spending time with the customer to truly understand what they need. At J&L Hardware there are no numbers on the aisles as employees walk a customer to the appropriate one while engaging them in a conversation. It is listening carefully while the customer describes their dilemma which lets the employee know what is the root cause to the situation and they become better equipped to help the customer.
The “flow” of the business is how your facility is laid out to engage the customer from the moment they enter. At J&L Hardware when a customer walks in the store it triggers a cow bell hanging over the door. This activates employees to look up and greet the customer, by name if possible, and begin small talk to identify the customer’s emotions and needs. A visual display in the center of the store attracts the interest of the customer, as well as a 50 year old machine that delights customers by cutting pipe to precise lengths. The flow of the business facilitates making it comfortable and easy for the customer to want to build a relationship with you.
Solving problems is the main reason why many customers choose to go to J&L Hardware vs. the big discount stores. Finley hires quality employees who have hardware wisdom and love to interact with people. He stocks products that big stores won’t keep in inventory and they can customize by having a machine shop in the back. This allows them to be creative in resolving many customer issues. With knowledgeable employees that have been trained to actively listen, most customers are receptive to the advice given by staff on how to fix their problem.
In summary, the three ways that you can build loyal customers to keep you in business for the long run:
1. Make the customer feel special, like an individual not, a number.
2. Remember that everything speaks in your physical environment and is sending messages to the customer before they even meet any of your employees. What does your “flow” look like?
3. Train your employees on your products and services so they become confident and knowledgeable. Hire employees who like people and interacting with people.
J&L knows that it takes 3 to 5 times more money to bring in a new customer vs. keeping the old one (ref.: Financial Consulting Firm). That’s where Larry Finley puts his efforts – creating LOYAL customers because he doesn’t want to lose his business.