Today, like many days, I went into the nearby Subway for a $5 footlong sandwich. Love that deal! Anyway, as I entered the clerk behind the counter said "Hi, welcome to Subway" in a friendly voice. As I was paying for my order that same clerk greeted another customer that had just entered. I got the distinct feeling that this crew is greeting EVERY customer that enters their store. It sounded like an honest greeting, too, not contrived or forced.
Maybe they got the idea from Jacksons, one of many local gas stations. I've been going there for years, and it is a very rare day when you can enter without being verbally greeted with a friendly "hello" or "how are you today?"
How much does it cost these businesses to greet their customers? ZERO.
How much goodwill does this simple gesture create? Hard to say.
There are studies upon studies proving that people value good customer service. It's been proven again and again. Without a doubt, a friendly greeting is plain old-fashioned good customer service.
This tactic not only creates loyalty, but it can also make the cash register ring. People will pay more for good customer service, and that's a fact. For example, near my home we have a grocery store where the service is bare-bones. They don't bag your purchases. They don't even have "baggers" on staff. Carry it out to your car? Forget about it! As a matter of fact, if you encounter one of their employees on the sales floor you almost guaranteed to be ignored completely.
On the other hand, I also live near another grocery store that is more traditional. They have a Courtesy Clerk bagging groceries, and they'll take it out to your car if you want. Some of the clerks will smile and greet you. They are, at least, making an effort towards customer service. This store charges much higher prices than the no-service store.
The service-oriented grocery store is still in business. This means that at least some consumers will pay more for the same product when that product is offered with a serving of customer service.
Back to the smile and greet thing. Smiling and greeting each customer as they walk in the door is a free small business marketing idea that just may pay off for you and your business. It takes little effort. The cost is zero. The goodwill created, while hard to quantify, is still real enough to generate more sales.
.....and that, ladies and gentlemen, is enough for both you and I to take a good hard look at implementing this free small business marketing idea.
Why not require the front desk staff in our gyms to greet each person as they arrive? In doing so, we'll be adopting the tactics embraced by:
-> Subway (the world's largest submarine sandwich chain with more than 37,000 locations around the world)
-> Jacksons (a nationally recognized chain of over 200 Chevron/Texaco/Shell branded convenience stores in 5 western states)
-> Walmart (each week, more than 200 million customers and members visit their 10,700 stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries. With fiscal year 2013 sales of approximately $466 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide.)
Yup. Walmart has perfected this free small business marketing idea. They hire people to be nothing but greeters. You think you know better than Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world? Hey, Walmart does a lot of things wrong but this is one thing they do right.
So, it really is true. Some of the best small business marketing ideas are completely FREE of charge.