Volume 47, Issue 2 - February 2012


At First Sight
Whatís the First Thing Your Customers Notice?
by Paul Bieber

You canít change a first impression. So true. Recently, I went to a local merchant to purchase a holiday gift. The sales clerks were talking to themselves and didnít acknowledge me standing there waiting to ask a question. When a lady turned around she made the worst mistake a salesperson can make Ö she didnít smile. Sure it was a busy time; so what? A good business prepares for busy times.

In a retail glass business you have it allópeople calling for a quote, stopping in to see a shower door display or following up on a scheduled service call. The first impression absolutely sets the tone for the rest of the customer relationship.

First Impressions
The most important part of your showroom is the first thing a customer sees or hears. A smile, a welcoming greeting or a sincere ďMay I help you?Ē are better than 20 different brochures a customer doesnít understand. You always enter your store fumbling with your keys, the alarm code and your arms full of homework. Step back, go outside and enter your store like a customer.

What is the first thing you see? It should be clean and saleable merchandise. It should be what you want to sell, your higher margin items and the impulse items. If you are running a sale on new windows, for instance, place those at the back of your showroom. Someone coming in for the sale will find the windows, but let them walk through your shower door display on the way.

"You always enter your store fumbling with your keys, the alarm code and your arms full of homework. Step back, go outside and enter your store like a customer."

Your showroom should not be cluttered or messy. It connotes that your work will be the same, which will turn off many potential customers. Have it well lit so that customers can read all labels and literature about your products. Change any burned out bulbs immediately.

Your windows and doors have to be spotless. Clean them daily. Your door has to work perfectly, with no hiccups in the closer and no tears in the weather-stripping. Your sign has to be well lit and have no broken letters and no bulbs burned out.

In A Word
Still, the most important part is the first person the customer talks with. The customer service representative (CSR) has to be a good listener and acknowledge the customerís wants and needs. Your CSR must be friendly and engage the customer ASAP. The CSR canít be chewing gum, eating lunch, smoking or talking on his cell phone.

If you are a one-person shop, and are on the phone with another customer, wave at the walk-in and acknowledge them.
When you get off the phone, tell him he will get the same personal care the person on the phone was receiving. And, always remind your staff, ďA customer is not an interruption of your work.Ē

If you have a radio playing, keep it low and on a neutral stationóno hard-edged political or ideological talk. For $15 a month, get a satellite radio that plays without commercials and has a hundred channel choices.

Have plenty of pictures of work you have done on the walls. Be proud of your work and your customers will feel the same way. As hard as this is for me to say, no pictures of baseball players or calendars from your fabricators. Your fabricators should provide you with displays and free product for your showroom. Table tops, shower doors, window displays, low-iron glass compared to regular float and all the tints and patterns of glass should be out front and easy for you to reach and show customers. You should have mirrors on your walls, one with a seamed edge and another polished and beveled.

Check your bathroom every hour and keep it spotless. Any customer, who uses it and feels dirty coming out will leave your store ASAP, without opening their checkbook.

In a customerís mind, your showroom directly speaks to the quality of work you will perform.

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., fro

© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.