This word will add thousands of dollars to your business.

June 15, 2011


When my family and I first moved into our neighborhood, the Independent Grocers supermarket seemed to be the local meeting place. People were greeted almost as soon as they entered ala Norm walking into Cheers.

Behind the deli fridge there were usually two or three staff cheerfully attending to customers.  More people either served at the register, packed bags, offered advice or restocked shelves while the owner Joe shared a joke with the female customers and talked football with the men, usually at the same time. The whole experience reminded me of a village market. I always felt a positive energy no matter what the time of day, making it a joy to shop there.

Scroll forward a few years.

Joe sells his thriving business to another couple – who are the current owners- after many profitable years. The current owners have been there since Joe left about ten years ago, despite several attempts to sell. Slowly changes start occurring. First, one of the ladies working in the delicatessen leaves; a few months later so does another. Within a year, this once thriving business only has the owner and his wife working there. Out of convenience we keep shopping there, but now, more for last minute items. It seems the entire neighborhood is doing the same thing. Grocery shopping now takes much longer because we have to drive to the local Coles or Woolworths.

One day, I start thinking about what has transformed this once thriving business. On the surface it doesn’t make any sense that it has gone so far backwards. The only significant change to the environment has been the building of a pre-school, literally two minutes away; fifty or sixty parents dropping off their children every day should only be a positive for the supermarket.

When I start examining my own shopping experience more closely I realise the first fundamental mistake the current owner is making.

I usually pay for my purchases with plastic; credit card or direct debit. The card has my full name printed in capital letters. The owner, picks up my card, runs it through his EFTPOS machine, still checks my signature after ten years and has NEVER USED MY NAME! He may know it, but he has never used it.

The majority of his customers are local. After ten years he should know most people by name. He should know my wife’s name, and my children’s names. He AND his wife should have made a point of knowing and using the name of as many of their customers as possible. All they needed to do was ASK.

You must understand that the most important word to every person is their own name. Call out any name in a crowd and watch as everyone with that name looks around hoping it’s them you are calling out for. Our name makes us feel good and when someone uses our name in usual –non- threatening- conversation we automatically like them.

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