Service Please!

Service Please!

by Danny Summers

Sir Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

This simply yet powerful statement emphasizes the importance of serving. Whether serving our family, our faith, our community, our country, or each and every person we see each day, the act of serving has great value. This also relates to every Guest that enters your Center. On May 2 of this year you may remember a message I shared titled "At Your Service". In that message, I said there is one thing you and your Team can do to begin... (Ok, actually 3 things)

  • Acknowledge every Guest
  • Strive to give each Guest more attention
  • Ask questions about what they're looking for

The message continued with: Admittedly, this is most difficult during these extremely busy weeks, but at least Strive for it. Talk about it every morning and make sure every Team Member knows how important it can be to have the goal... At Your Service!

This past week, I asked Carl Phillips, our Mystery Shopper Guru and one of the "fathers'" of the mystery shopping industry, to review our customers' experience in order to make sure the things we thought were important were happening on a consistent basis. Things like friendly greeting, a smile, eye contact, product knowledge, suggestive selling, and more.  Carl said, "One mystery shop doesn’t tell the story of consistent service, but several visits can be a real eye-opener."
Below is the shopping history of those Centers taking advantage of the program in 2022.  What you are seeing in the first set of figures are the categories we asked Carl to monitor.  As you can see, we are trending very well in our telephone interaction with our customers, center appearance, and the final purchase experience.  The areas that show significant opportunities are employee interaction with our customers.    

Here are some observations and overall scores.

To further breakdown opportunities, here are the specific questions that are missed most often.  This report shows questions that were missed MOST of the time down to descending percentages.  The first seven questions are all customer interaction with employees.  As you can see those questions were missed from 10% to 88% of the time. The following are ranked in the Most Often Missed Order:

  1. Did the employee inform you of any events, seminars, or special promotions?    88% NO
  2. Did the employee suggest other products either related to your request or items in other departments? (Other suggestions may include new products and varieties in other departments, etc.)    61.4% NO
  3. Were you invited to come in? (During initial phone call)    32.1% NO
  4. Were you invited back?  (During check out)  28.6% NO
  5. Did the department employee give their name? (During initial phone call)    28.4% NO
  6. Did all the employees within 5 feet of you greet you? (A greeting can consist of eye contact or a smile.)    26.2% NO
  7. Did the employee seem interested in learning more about why you requested the product?    25.9% NO
  8. Was there enough signage to be helpful?  (directional, department, price & product signage)    19.3% NO
  9. Were employees easily identifiable by uniform or name tag?    11.9% NO
  10. Did any products look picked over, damaged, or dead?    10.7% NO
  11. Were products clearly priced by sticker or signs?    10.7% NO

So the question here is how do we fix this substantial opportunity.  My guess would be it's a matter of employees not understanding expectations. When we see the Specific Employee Attitude and Skills as the weakest area, this points to the importance of every team member beiung equally trained. Carl said, "Using the shopping reports to show team members what a shopper experienced when visiting your Center, rather than as a punitive report, is the best place to start. Studies have shown that employees love feeling appreciated and tend to stay longer when that feeling is expressed on a regular basis."

The information above is from all Mystery Shops conducted since the beginning of the year.  Each participating Center can see its own location’s specific report by logging in to the management reporting website built for you. If you have not been participating in the Group's Mystery Shopper Program and want more details, login to The Group's websystem, navigate to the Clients-Only Menu, and scroll down to Group Mystery Shopper Program. And of course, I am here to help you through the process.

Your team is your greatest area of opportunity to connect with your Guests, and the one thing customers are able to experience by shopping at your Center is the opportunity to feel valued as a Guest.  If you, as an Owner or Manager feel you can't do more, it's time to help develop more of your Team. John Kennedy is our Team-Builder Coach and he has a lot of resources that can help. Check out what John can help you with through his blog HERE. And make sure to see all of the details below about YourGroupSpace.

I will add to these ideas with some challenges on getting more of your team actively involved in The Garden Center Group. If you, as an Owner or Manager, feel you can't do more, it's time to help develop more of your Team. In the meantime, remember every time a Guest walks into your Center, they have one thought on their mind... Service Please!

We hope to see you in Kansas City, September 19-22, 2022 where we'll be exploring Beyond the Boundaries of Garden Retailing. The Fall Event is all about sharing, learning, and growing. No matter how long you’ve been in retail or what position you hold in your company, there’s still something to learn. It's a Can't-Miss event! For program details, registration, and hotel information CLICK HERE.

Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.
Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!


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