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Retail Sales: The Zen of Retail

Updated on October 11, 2012
Working retail at UHaul
Working retail at UHaul | Source
The Zen of retail:  how would I like to be treated as a customer?
The Zen of retail: how would I like to be treated as a customer? | Source
The Zen of Retail
The Zen of Retail | Source

Despite all evidence to the contrary, this writer has not lost his marbles. I am fully aware of how bizarre the title of this article appears to be, but hang with me for a little while and you might find some value in it.

Let me give you a little of my background regarding retail so that you will know I at least have some game when writing about it. I have twelve years of retail experience, eight of which involved retail businesses that I owned. I had a sporting goods store in Vermont for two years and a small convenience store in Key Center, Washington, for six years. In addition I have worked retail for other owners for a number of years.

I also have degrees in Marketing and Economics, so I can talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to the fine art of retail.

The reason for this article is to point out that many retailers have lost their direction and seem to have forgotten one of the basic principles of retail. No, I’m not going to tell you what that principle is right now. Instead, I’m going to give you a little background information and build suspense at the same time.

TODAY’S ECONOMY

Well, today’s economy is, quite simply, swirling down the toilet. Smaller stores are having a very hard time competing with the big box stores. The big box stores are having a very hard time competing with other big box stores. Meanwhile, the customers are having their buying power diminish, seemingly daily, and they are grumpy as hell but don’t know what to do about it.

There seems to be a convenience store on every block and none of them are terribly convenient. The traffic and parking problems associated with the big box stores has gone from bad to worse, and sooner or later we will be hearing about fist fights in the parking lots as unsatisfied customers who are feeling the strain and stress of life finally take it all out on each other. News at Eleven!

Nobody seems to be happy except the Walton family and they can’t count their money fast enough. Make no mistake about it: Walmart is a success story and will continue to be so for quite some time to come. But what about the rest of the retailers out there? It would appear that they are left to scramble for the scraps that are dropped from Walmart’s plate when it runneth over. That is not a particularly encouraging scenario!

And what about the rest of the consumers out there who wouldn’t be caught dead in Walmart? What do they have to look forward to?

THE ZEN WAY

So what is this Zen thing? Zen is defined by Webster as “enlightenment attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition.” In other words, we find a greater understanding of life by looking within ourselves. Pretty simple, huh?

But what does Zen have to do with retail? For those who just fell off of the turnip truck, retail is defined as the sale of goods directly to the consumer. So how does meditation and intuition help a retailer to sell goods to a customer?

HOW DO RETAILERS SELL?

Now we have entered the field of marketing. There are various ways to increase sales in a retail store. Advertising is one; finding a way to get the word out that you have a product that is desirable and a must-have for any consumer. Make no mistake about it, advertising is expensive, so much so that many smaller retailers simply cannot afford to do media advertising and are left with social media as the only solution.

Pricing is another avenue to explore when attempting to increase sales. What is the perfect price for an item, a price that allows for sales while at the same time allows for profits? Do you sell low and make up for it in volume, or sell high and make profits on the higher profit margin? Or is the answer somewhere in-between?

Merchandising can certainly help sales. How are your products arranged and displayed in your store? Are they located for maximum visualization? Do the displays look inviting? Does the store itself look inviting?

All of these are questions that any retailer should be considering, but there is one that we have not mentioned yet and I believe it to be the most important retail practice of them all.

ZEN RETAILING

Contemplate this question: if you were a customer, and let’s face it, we all are, how would you like to be treated while shopping for goods?

Let me tell you a story. When I owned my convenience store, the only major grocery store in town was two blocks from us. There was no way we could compete with that store on price and number of products sold. They were simply too big! How could we possibly make enough money to stay open one month, let alone six years?

The answer came to me shortly after opening our store. I adopted the Zen way of thinking and I asked myself the exact question I mentioned earlier. How do people want to be treated when they are shopping?

It was my belief then and it still is today, that people want to make a human connection. They want to know that they matter. When they enter a store they want to be noticed and they want to be treated with respect. I believed then and I still believe today that people are willing to spend a bit more if they are treated like their business is important to the retail owner. I made it my business to become friends with each and every customer. I welcomed them into the store; I took the time to chat with them and find out about their lives. I let them know, through my actions, that they were important to me and by extension that their business was important to me.

Within three months of opening, our little convenience store was out-selling the major grocery store on weekends. Cars were backed up on the highway waiting to get into our parking lot. Customers would call me out by name when they entered and I, in turn, would call them out by name and ask them how their wife was doing or how their kids were doing in school. My store became an extension of their personal lives and they responded by coming to our store rather than the impersonal big store two blocks away.

How do you increase sales? Treat people like they matter! The Zen of Retail!

OH, IF IT WERE ONLY THAT SIMPLE!

Yes, there are other factors that affect retail sales. Maybe your location is horrible! Maybe you sell inferior product! Maybe the competition is turning the screws and making it tougher and tougher to compete with them.

All are valid considerations and all affect your sales; however, better customer service will always benefit you. Give it some Zen thought for a second. We do not need charts and pie graphs, nor do we need statistical analysis. It is an irrefutable fact that no business in the history of retail has ever lost customers because of good customer service. Other factors may have hurt their business but good customer service is a plus any way you look at it.

All things being equal between two similar, competing retail stores, the one with the better customer service will always come out on top. Why? Simply because, as I stated earlier, customers want to know that they matter. As a society we are becoming less human in our daily interactions. It is hurry and do this, hurry and do that, run and run and chase our tails and all the while we are chasing our tails we are weighed down by the pressures that mount. We worry about our kids, worry about our spouses, worry about our jobs and worry about our bills. We have limited money and limited patience and just once we would like to go into a store and be treated with respect and friendliness.

I make my retail choices based on customer service. I will not return to a store that has treated me indifferently. I certainly will not return to a store that has treated me rudely. Life is too short for me to give money to someone who cannot say thank you, or who talks on the phone while helping me.

The Zen of Retail? How would you like to be treated if you were a consumer?

WRAP IT UP

These are tough times! I suspect that they will become tougher. If you are in business you are in for the fight of your life as you navigate these unstable economic waters. There are decisions you will make daily; some will be advantageous and some will not serve you well. However, there is one step you can take that will never harm you, and it has the possibility of doing great good for your business. Treat customers as though they matter! Treat customers as though they are important!

Treat customers as you would like to be treated!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

For other tips on retail, see the following:

http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/Five-Tips-For-Finding-A-Job-As-A-Teenager

http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Be-A-Terrible-Retail-Clerk

To purchase any of my books on Kindle, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=William%20D.%20Holland

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    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Another very informative and fun to read hub! Treating people like they matter is a business concept that affects me greatly when I choose where to go. So many businesses are unaware of this concept and give customers the message that they could care less if they get their business. I'm sure you were a great business owner!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Healthylife, thank you for visiting again! I actually loved working retail, but then for me it was fun getting to know people. I agree, there are quite a few stores who could improve their customer service.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      I started reading this and could not wait to see where you were going with this article. First and foremost, I have my bachelor's degree in business management and took many classes on marketing and advertising too. I also took many classes on psychology and totally agree with you that people wanted to be treated essentially like they matter. You proved by how you ran your store that the two (business and psychology) go hand in hand very nicely. I happen to be of the same mind set as you about treating people the way you would like to be treated, so this one truly spoke to me on more levels then one. Again, Bill you never cease to amaze me and of course I voted and shared too!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, thank you! Most of this is barely mentioned in business classes....the customer may not always be right, but the customer should always be considered as something more than a cash cow. Of course you understand this....now if we can get that grocery store down the street to consider it. :)

      Thank you kind lady!

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I have seen big businesses going down fast even with all the mighty initial capital, while a small business with just a handful of customers maintaining the fight for years. It is true, business owners should be able to be in touch with their customers even if us (customers) we know we are target for buying.

      I believe if there is that human touch in every business, the connections will always be there and the customer might come back, again and again. Thanks billybuc, i have learnt bit of retail selling. Voted up and useful.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      I couldn't agree with you more. How I am treated in a store, especially a small store has a lot to do with me returning to shop there again. How you treat others is pertinent in every area of your life. You will always feel better about yourself when you treat people with the same respect you desire. I imagine you were a good business owner. Awesome hub. Congrats on your well deserved Hubbie award!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill.....BRAVO!!! I love this and would like to see more hubs in this vein. I am a consumer advocate at heart....

      We have so many conversations with friends and acquaintances about the evolution of customer service NON-existence.

      It's all $$$$$ and greed.....lax attitudes.....basically, bill, it's deplorable that most everywhere, it's clear that the customer DOESN'T matter.....

      I can honestly tell you that this is the main area that makes the biggest difference as to WHO we will support with our business......even if it means a few more dollars being spent! Excellent, Bill. UP++

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Bill, this is so true. I remember when I had my first real job at Service Merchandise (it used to be a chain, but I am not sure of the other states it was in). Anyway, I remember the first week was totally devoted to watching tapes about customer service and different scenarios. To put it simply: the customer comes first.

      I am the same as you. IF I go into a store and am treated indifferently (etc.), I will not go back. If that person is in a bad mood or too busy, tough. The customer comes first. Hmmm... what would the public think if teachers were mean and full of self to the point where students were not getting what they need? It wouldn't go well for the teacher.

      "The customer comes first" attitude needs to be put back into practice. I remember thinking the videos and training were stupid because back then it was common sense to me, but today it would be "new" to many.

      Great hub! Votes and shares!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      dwachira, thank you Sir! I think far too many retail stores have lost their connection with their customers and that is a fatal mistake for a business.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, thank you for the congratulations! Yes, in business or in personal life, how we treat others will show in our success level.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I do the same thing. I go to several stores that charge a bit more but I don't care...it is worth it to me to be treated with respect. My favorite coffee barista is a darling who remembers my name and talks to me like a friend...I will always go to her and pay a few pennies more. Why businesses don't understand this is a mystery to me.

      Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Susan, it sure isn't common sense today, but I have the feeling if the economy stays the way it is, we will see better customer service as a means to survival for these businesses. Thanks for the great comment my friend.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Well Billy, we cannot add much with a myriad of comments that already said it all. But your strategy is working everyday with your customers and your hub friends. Mentally they are parking outside the server, in order to write down the bytes of input to your everyday hub. Now where is the limit? The sky? 365 hubs or more a year can change so many lives. Praying you are here for years. Can you imagine? Changing lives for the sake of the country. The domino effect of charismatic redemption. Keep it up Bill! And Congrats on those well deserved Hubbie awards. Okay Beach boys....play that song: "Kokomo."

      "Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya

      Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama

      Key Largo, Montego,

      baby why don't we go,

      Jamaica..... come on pretty Cardisa!.."

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, you are cracking me up! I was never a big Beach Boys fan but I loved that song....it's one of those that will stay in your brain for days after you hear it.

      Thank you Sir and I love your comment; we do make a difference, each and every day, and it is a wonder to behold when writers such as yourself spread the love, experience, and wisdom in your writings. Thank you buddy!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill -

      Isn't this a basic rule of business? Oh yeah, that was 40 years ago! But wait, isn't there something called the Golden Rule? Oh yeah, most people in today's world haven't been taught that! Even the greedy know that if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours, don't they? Oh yeah, that's no longer taught on X-Box!

      It seems like the only ones that treat you nice are the credit card companies. That's only a front so they can stab you in the back later!

      It's another "back to basics" lesson, my friend. Sad that it's not the common knowledge it should be! Great Hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Richard, if we were to ever meet we would laugh for hours. Your comments are great food for my soul first thing in the morning. I know you know what I'm talking about; now if we can only spread the word.

      Thank you Sir!

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      Really good hub with a really good point. What scares people most here in the Nordic countries is when someone wants to get to know you better and ask too many personal questions. We think it's very odd to be threated as human beings when we go shopping. Most of us want to shop in our own little bubble without any human contacts except when paying - and you use three words: hi, thanks and bye. This is of course steretypical and maybe things and people slowly are starting to change here in northern Europe too. That's what I hope and what I'd like to think.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 4 years ago

      I'm lucky to live near a few shops that pretty much work on the principles you have here, billybuc - they make handing over my hard-earned cash quite a pleasant experience. But, yes, there's also quite a few who go off into a corner and talk on their mobile while I'm standing there like a muffin with a bar of chocolate. A *hungry* muffin at that. Ah, well, it's a few calories saved, I suppose, when I walk out in a huff chocolate-less :(. Love your highly informed and insightful take on this most aggravating aspect of shopping :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, that is interesting to know! There are parts of the United States where what you describe is part of the culture. The west coast where I live tends to be more open and communicative. I'm sure it is the same with other cultures. I would just like to see a little more friendliness in society....I think it would have to be good for all of us.

      Why are you so nice? I do not find you to be living in a bubble at all here on HubPages....you are warm and caring and I love having you as a friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Redberry, you are stronger than I am if you walk out without the chocolate! LOL....I would be mad but I could not leave without the chocolate.

      Thank you; it has annoyed me more and more over the past few years....this is my money I am handing them...the least they could do is pretend like they care....just pretend....is that asking too much? Evidently it is.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Bill, I couldn't agree more. That's why we would prefer to drive to Miles City than shop the one and only retail store (KMart) here. They have a huge turn over rate, every time we go in there, we have to stand in line because they only have one cashier working, and the clerks are always rude and impatient. Driving 70 miles one way to get what we need AND be treated with respect is worth the extra gas. Great job and very on point.

    • profile image

      JustCrafty 4 years ago

      The Wal-mart stores in my area have turned their people greeters or at least the ones that can work into store workers who return item after people ditch them off at the registers and other places.

      I think that they will soon realize that they have finally taken the only human part of the business away and the results will show in sales.

      I know sometimes the greeters were a little annoying but to some they are the first human contact of the day and that it priceless. The thefts have really picked up since people don't see anyone near the doors so they just walk out with unpaid for purchases and unless they catch them from the photo on the camera they are free to get away with the items.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      The application of reflection and intuition to retail is a thought many should consider . I agree with you big is not always beautiful and many customers prefer a personal touch. We may not need bar charts to tell us that. There is much wisdom in what you say... I too believe strongly in a personal touch. However, the sheer market economy of buyin grower of big box stores and their ability to cut down price means i5 is hard for small personal stores to compete economically . Equally customers are choosing to buy more and more online too... You give us much for thought here as always.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      Bill, I went out to see the world and met new friends. I changed. I used to be very shy. Now I'm more open, but still a little shy. :)

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      I am one of those that will never set foot in a Walmart. I couldn't agree with you more Bill. The simple act of caring applies to the retail industry as much as to a relationship or a greeting on the street.

      Thank you for this awesome Hub!

    • Doodlehead profile image

      Doodlehead 4 years ago from Northern California

      Yup. I go to my healthfood store for this very reason. I could get stuff cheaper only 2 doors dow. But I can get in and out really fast and they don't ask for my ID when I use my card.

      Plus, the owner owns 8 basset hounds and we talk about our dogs.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Made, I love the new you! :) and I love your new profile picture as well.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mark; I do not believe I have ever shopped at Walmart. I simply refuse....I'll pay more for the chance to be treated like a human.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doodlehead, I had two bassets and I loved those dogs. Great comment; good to see someone agrees with me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, that is applying my thoughts to the extreme and hooray to you for doing it. I'll be damned if I'll give my money to someone and be treated with disrespect. It ain't happening!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      JustCrafty, great example of what I am talking about. I don't shop at Walmart on principle, but the greeters was at least an attempt to be more human.....oh well, I'll just keep trying to change things one person at a time. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ah, Doc, you entered into another facet that I did not mention...the online purchasing. Nothing personal about online now is there? And yet most of us do it. For me it is more pleasurable to shop online than be treated rudely in person. Retail owners need to re-think their approach to selling or face the loss of business.

      Thanks as always my friend.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      The difference is the human connection indeed. We enjoy going to a smaller store where we can actually chat with the grocer and feel valued! It makes so much difference to whether we want to buy something or not. I'd rather buy from someone who cared about earning my money! Well said, and all my votes.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Bill,

      Very fascinating hub and title! You made Zen fit perfectly into this one! Your convenience store story is an inspiration for sure! As you know , I work in a hotel, and have three years of retail experience as well. The customers need to know they are cared for. If they feel imp0rtant(human connection you have beautifully mentioned) they will keep coming back. Great job Uncle Bill!

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      I'm glad to be me. I would not want to change my life with anyone. I updated both the text and the picture on my profile page. I show more of myself now, I think. Maybe I would fit in on the west coast in the US too.

      Thank you so much my dear friend Bill! I'm always looking forward to the mornings in your part of the world, because when you wake up, the whole HubPages community seems to wake up. Hugs from a rainy west coast in Finland ...

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      well said Bill.

      Treat others as you would want to be treated!

      I agree humans need compassion and humans need attention so, gotta give that and they will show their affection in their own ways!

      We are social animals and gotta treat each other with respect.

      many votes for teaching us the secret of compassion in the business of retail :)

    • Trinity M profile image

      Trinity M 4 years ago

      Bill this hub is so on the money (pardon the pun)! I will always go somewhere where I am treated like a human being and where my business matters rather than to a place that might be cheaper but it takes me an hour to get service. I also try to treat my customers in this way, even though my business is online I make sure that I communicate personally with every customer and answer every question personally.

      I never tire of reading your awesome hubs my friend! {hugz}

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, exactly! I hope we don't see a time come when the little stores are pushed out completely by competition...I guess that's up to us, right? Thank you for the votes!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Josh, I believe that totally....without good customer service a business is dead in the water...there is too much competition to make the mistake of ignoring the customer. Thanks nephew!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, that was very sweet of you to say, but then you are always sweet to me. I'm sorry about your rain; we are finally having lovely weather and we deserve it. :) Be well my friend and yes, you would fit in well here on the west coast.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruchira, it only seems like common sense, doesn't it? And yet so many businesses don't understand it.

      Thank you my friend; I look forward to your next hub!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Trinity, I do the same thing with my customers. I want them to know that they are appreciated. It is the thing to do as a human being and as a business person.

      You are so nice....hugs to you as well and sleep well tonight.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      I agree with your perspective here Bill. In fact I wrote a hub a few months ago highlighting some businesses that are doing well in spite of the recession and a common factor in all was how well they treated customers. Other factors were being involved in the local community - eg sourcing goods locally, and just generally having a socially responsible attitude.

      In the UK Tesco is our equivalent of Walmart (we do have Walmart but it's Tesco that's everywhere). One of the companies I featured opened a new store recently in the shadow of Tesco, and just like your store they are doing well.

      Very interesting hub. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yvonne, thanks for that addition. I also like that you mentioned community involvement; that is so important. We had a power outage during a snowstorm last weekend and one of the grocery stores opened their doors and gave away all of their frozen foods.....for free....I thought that was a beautiful gesture and I have shopped there ever since.

      Thank you!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I often marvel at the way I am treated in retail stores..sometimes like I am very important and sometimes the clerks are rude..Which means I will tell at least ten people. I have always treated customers like gold bcause they are.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      You have carried these philosophies into your writing - you treat each person as if they really mattered. That's why this community sees you as a remarkable pillar who has been there and done that. You're remarkable! Not only that, I kept thinking as I was reading, "what HASN'T this guy done!?" Hehehe. Loved it, BB. Tweeted this.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, thank you! You have to remember that I have lived a long time...I had to do something with my spare time, so I worked a whole bunch of different jobs! LOL....your words mean a great deal to me Sis! I hope you are doing well and that your new business is showing signs of life.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I have very little patience for rudeness....I am a patient man but disrespect me and I can lose my cool. I am giving them my money....and I expect humane treatment in return. Period! This is non-negotiable as far as I am concerned.

      Thank you my dear; always a pleasure to see you drop by.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I also will not return to a store that does not treat me well or that I see treating others badly. We are customers and as there is little extra money in the economy right now, we deserve to be treated nicely when we make purchases. Good approach with the 'zen' mentality!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Christy! The zen thing was just a twist I thought might help the message...as for the message....we deserve respect in any store....period!

      Thank you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      It's all about the customer, when will the retailers get this straight? Great angle on marketing today.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 4 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      I think that great customer service and a knowledgeable staff is the key to any businesses success.

      Have a good evening. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, I have no idea when they will get with the program! Thank you for taking the time to comment considering your family problems. God bless you and your sister!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sue! I will indeed have a good one and you do the same.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What you've written here is so true and not only for retail but for any business. I love going into local businesses and being greeted by name. It makes me feel good that someone has taken the time to remember me. There's this one gas station that we go to and the owner knows my entire family by name and where everyone works. He like you, took the time to get to know his customers, and shows a genuine interest in everyone that walks through his door.

      Enjoyed your hub and the video intro as well.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Bill this was a hub very close to my heart! As a retailer manager of over 20 years I am so passionate about customer service you would not believe. My philosophy, which my grandfather gave me many years ago was "treat others the way you would want to be treated" and it is something I try to pass on to staff. I find it heartening that you also are of the same opinion! My last position was as Manager of a sporting goods store Bill - some coincidence!! I love Retail and it can be such a rewarding career choice, having your customers leave with a smile on their face is such a great feeling! Great hub my friend, you man of many talents!

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I am constantly, and I mean constantly, amazed at the poor customer service that employees today, in this economy, provide. I don't know if they are bearing up under salary cuts or what is wrong, but with businesses struggling to keep their doors open, it seems no one is minding the store. If I had treated clients coming in to the company where I worked so rudely, I would not have lasted 2 weeks. In fact, I taught management some valueable lessons in the positive effects of great customer service. My mantra was and will always be to treat people like I would want my mother to be treated. It was a great reminder on a day when I wasn't feeling well or was stressed by life. On one occasion I asked an older, experienced, friendly electrician for an "on the spot" electrical consult with a confused, worried, elderly customer who'd lost her husband recently. Claude was so kind, even making the older lady more relaxed by telling her how nice she looked, I made a point of thanking him in front of the customer for his gracious, expert help and I made sure management got an email regarding the same. This particular electrician was close to retirement and was born with a crippled arm, yet he was so upbeat and positive, I had to give him a hug on the occasion he came into the office (he was usually out in the field, as were all of the electricians for the most part). It doesn't take anything to be kind, but it seems to be in short supply today. Great hub, Bill, on a topic that everyone can relate to. Thank you.

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      Pete Fanning 4 years ago from Virginia

      Many great points here Bill, mainly being to treat customers like they matter, a lost art today. Especially the salesguys that almost try to belittle a customer into a sale. Well done as always. Voted up and useful!

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      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow.. you certainly have lots and lots of talent. I didn't realize you also owned businesses. I haven't studied the zen method, but as a consumer I can say your methods do make a world of difference and I will go to a place where I am treated nicely, even if I have to pay a little extra. If I go to a business and get rude service or an employee who doesn't acknowledge me, I don't go back. It screams to me that this employee doesn't care about the business and the manager does not care about the business or they would be monitoring these employees. Excellent hub and I enjoyed learning about the Zen effect.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Awesome hub and right on the money! Customers do matter. You don't have a business without them. It's too bad businesses today don't seem to think about that. Maybe they will wise up eventually.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Susan, I love the story about the gas station....that's' my kind of business and I would be forever loyal to such a business. Thanks for sharing that and thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Suzie, that is quite a coincidence. I love, too, that your grandfather had the same philosophy! Different country, same values. I think that is very cool!

      Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Amy, I am blown away by some of the poor service I see. I will always say hello when I am buying something at the counter, and if the sales clerk doesn't say hello back I'll say it again until they do. Then, when they give me my change back, I'll stand there until they say thank you. I'll be damned if I'm going to be treated like I don't count.

      Thanks my dear; you are a joy in my life! Keep fighting the good fight!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Pete; it is commonplace but that doesn't mean I have to put up with it....and I don't. I am fairly mild-mannered until I encounter rudeness.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tammy, I'm not sure how much talent I have, but I do know I've lived a long time and accumulated some experience. :) I agree completely; I simply will not return and I've been known to tell them I'm not returning and why.

      Thank you dear and congratulations again on your Hubbie.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, we can always hope, right? Thank you once again for the visit.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great article! Your figured it out. Treat peopmeclike they mattered. I can see why they flocked to your store. With your personable personality and a ready smile they would prefer your store. Thanks for Sharing your knowledge! Great ideas!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This is a wonderful lesson in the art of retailing. One which a lot of stores lose out on especially the big stores. Thanks for sharing this.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

      Shared the hub.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Oh, Bill, you hit the nail on the head. (Of course you got the nail and hammer from a local hardware store. Where the old man in overalls who has been doing carpentry work for 30 years, calls you by name and knows exactly what you need.)

      This is why Linda and I love the community we live in. It is a pre-planned community designed to bring the community back together. Small yards but big parks. So families spend more time in community. It feels like we live on a college campus, but this time it is with families.

      I know the owner of the local law firm, the local bakery, the local yoga studio, the local pediatrician, and even the local Greek restaurant.

      Opa!

      I love my community because we do all know each other, and it has that Zen feeling. I feel so bless to have everything you wrote about.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 4 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      I never received notification of this Hub...Rajan Jolly shared this and how I found this!!

      As Usual, AWESOME JOB, Interesting, Useful, and UP!!!

      Although, I don't work retail anymore, I have over 18 years experience in retail and sales. I was the fix it manager for one company because I would go into a store, clean up the attitude of the employees, and provide good old fashioned customer service that I forced the employees to learn (although at times, you would think I was holding a gun to their head...lol) and yes, they had to learn the names of the regular customers!! :)

      I LOVE this Hub and I think that this is a crucial skill that everyone needs to learn!!! Sharing this as well!!! AWESOME JOB Zen Master!! ;)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Suzette; it seems to simple and yet few business owners clue into it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, I would hope there are always stores around who understand the importance of customers. Let us hope. Thank you Sir!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carly, we live in a similar neighborhood and I love it. There is a sense of community here as well and it is a joy to see. Thank you my dear; I had no doubt you would understand the importance of community.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Patty, I have run into that problem quite often lately, not being notified of hubs. I hope that I don't hurt people's feelings when they don't see me stop by, but I have to have that notification or I'll miss hubs.

      Thank you for the job you did in retail; I believe it is crucial for a business to achieve success over the long term.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I agree. When i enter a store and employees are having a good time ignoring me, I will not shop there again, yet there are many really good stores who treat you like family. Great hub..Thank you Bill..Cheers

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cheers to you as well, Ruby! Maybe we can start a revolution of sorts. We can always hope!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Now... one of the saddest (or sadistic) things my coworkers and I were very good at was: getting your money.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      "Do unto others..." Point well made as always Bill. If I switch to a song, "People, people needing people..." Both relating to how people just want to be liked and treated well, even when they're shopping.

      We have two area hospitals...both about the same in size, both with good staffs and yet one hospital is more popular than the other...reason...the popular one has training for its employees, training on how to interact with patients, how to treat patients, and so on...a perfect example as stated in your hub!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mhatter, I have no doubt! I was pretty damn good at it as well.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, in all walks of life, the same principle applies....we need to know that we matter....great example with the hospitals....thank you my friend.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Awesome point you make here about customer service. Oh how I wish it were the same as I remember when I was a kid. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other. When I went into the local shop, the owner was behind the counter and he knew me, my parents, my grandparents, etc. People did make connections then. Now, people are so disconnected and we are losing something of ourselves, I think.

      Also, I am impressed by all the comments you get on your hubs. Awesome. :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donnah, I hope those days come back! We need them as a country. Comments? I have a lot of good friends who support me faithfully and I am grateful.

      Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      JustCrafty 4 years ago

      Retail experience and loss of sale.

      My daughter and I entered a wedding dress shop yesterday in search of her wedding dress. The lady there greeted us when we entered the store but as soon as she summized that we weren't interested in the most high priced dresses she lost interest and started to lead us to the door. I know retail is all about money in some peoples eyes but picking a wedding dress does take a litte more thought to purchase than just the price tag. It would have been nice if she had shown us some that were in different price ranges but she must make commission or had something else she wanted to do because she turned her attitude quickly to someone who didn't really want to sell a dress.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      JustCrafty, and in the process she lost all chance at a future sale....some retail people simply don't understand what the people connection is all about. Thank you for the comment; you hit it right on the head.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Billy oh Zen Master... you are bang on with this one. Shopping retail for many people is a very important. Like you say we want to be none and not given the usual flatly spoken have a nice day between the snaps of gum. Me I will always support the small business owner most times. When I walk into the local small grocery store here I get the same Hi Rolly greeting. Often it turns into a visit.

      Reading this hub for me is just like stopping in your store Billy... Great advice... say did you charge extra for bags... lol

      Hugs from Canada

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rolly, we subscribe to the bring your own bag theory...not into cutting those trees down or drilling for oil for plastic. If you don't have any I'll give you some spares. :)

      You are a kind man and a great online friend! Thank you Sir!

    • profile image

      onlooker 4 years ago

      Bill, thank you. Priceless advice. I do treat and follow being friendly and welcoming. However, we do have a lot of rude customers too these days. Your zenful advices guide me towards...patience. Love your success stories, always learning from you dear friend. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hello my dear; I have missed you! I hope this finds you well and happy! Thank you for the visit!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      The way I see it... customer satisfaction is based not only on the quality if the product but also on the quality if treatment the customer gets..

      A good gesture... polite and courteous conversation... can not only increase your rep.. but also increase your customers

      Useful and thoughtful write Sir Bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rahul, your words are true and should be memorized by anyone working retail. It seems to be common sense but alas, common sense is in short supply. Thank you my friend!

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 4 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Very nice hub... and it is so true. I wish more people in retail would read this hub ...PLEASE!!!!

      It is horrible how the simple "niceness" factor seems to be missing.

      Very infromative billybuc, and definitely a keeper.

      Laurinzo

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Laurnizo, thank you! I am horrified by the poor service and lack of civility at some retail outlets. I am basically paying them to be rude to me, and that is unacceptable.

    • profile image

      bravewarrior 4 years ago

      Yep, customer service is the key! I prefer mom and pops myself. I used to buy my cigarettes at what we call, Hakbib stores here in Florida. Once you get to know the owner, a different person is at the helm. What I've learned from those people, is our government gives foreigners money to open a business. They have 5 years until they have to pay taxes. They then turn the business over to a family member and the 5 years starts all over again. This goes on and on. Does the government do this for we Americans? No!

      I absolutely refuse to shop a WalMart! A few years ago I saw an expose on the History Channel about the overseas employees who enable"Sam" be to sell things at a pittance. The workers are all under the age of 13. Most are girls and are subjected to having their private parts "explored" coming onto shift and going off shift. These girls are in countries where women have no recognition as humans, let alone having rights.

      Sam Walton going outside America for his "undersold" products is a contradiction. The way he saves money in labor is a human atrocity!

      What the hell has happened to America???? To undersell a neighborhood store such as yours or any other locally owned family business, operated with American pride in order to offer lesser prices is something we should think about before saving $2. How much will it ultimately cost to repair, it possible, the tainted souls who resulted in saving you money? Have you really saved? No. And you should be totally ashamed!

      People don't understand why I refuse to step in WalMart or buy anything under the name of Sam Walton (Sam's Club). I understand. I will not feed and perpetuate the exploitation of any human form! Especially not female children!

    • profile image

      bravewarrior 4 years ago

      Yep, customer service is the key! I prefer mom and pops myself. I used to buy my cigarettes at what we call, Hakbib stores here in Florida. Once you get to know the owner, a different person is at the helm. What I've learned from those people, is our government gives foreigners money to open a business. They have 5 years until they have to pay taxes. They then turn the business over to a family member and the 5 years starts all over again. This goes on and on. Does the government do this for we Americans? No!

      I absolutely refuse to shop a WalMart! A few years ago I saw an expose on the History Channel about the overseas employees who enable"Sam" be to sell things at a pittance. The workers are all under the age of 13. Most are girls and are subjected to having their private parts "explored" coming onto shift and going off shift. These girls are in countries where women have no recognition as humans, let alone having rights.

      Sam Walton going outside America for his "undersold" products is a contradiction. The way he saves money in labor is a human atrocity!

      What the hell has happened to America???? To undersell a neighborhood store such as yours or any other locally owned family business, operated with American pride in order to offer lesser prices is something we should think about before saving $2. How much will it ultimately cost to repair, it possible, the tainted souls who resulted in saving you money? Have you really saved? No. And you should be totally ashamed!

      People don't understand why I refuse to step in WalMart or buy anything under the name of Sam Walton (Sam's Club). I understand. I will not feed and perpetuate the exploitation of any human form! Especially not female children!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, you bring up two points that have always bothered me. The take over of convenience stores by immigrants who have been given a better deal than existing citizens will ever get, and The Waltons. I have never purchased an item in Walmart and I won't.....for exactly the reason that you mentioned.

      As for your question, what has happened to America? I don't know...it sure doesn't resemble the country I grew up in. Things really started to go downhill with NAFTA and it hasn't gotten any better since then.

      I have tons of answers but nobody is asking me, so I'll just keep spreading the word about simple living, because if we think we are ever going to have life like it once was in this nation we are living in a fairy tale.

      Thanks buddy; hope you are keeping your head above water.

      LOL

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      and thanks a second time.....LOL

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      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Evening Billy -- Amen, Amen, and Amen! As my mother's Baptist pastor would have said. :) You have nit the nail precisely on the head. Service, friendliness, and a focus on the customer's needs will always get my patronage and money over price alone.

      I have no real complaints against Home Depot; their customer service is pretty good, but.... Right around the corner from me (as opposed to 12 miles away) is an Ace Hardware store. It is tiny, as old as God and the prices are pretty high, 15-25% higher than Home Depot.

      There are two to four retired contractors, plumbers, or electricians in there all the time and they have nothing but time...they listen, they ask the right question, they help you find just the right tool or product, they talk you through how to use it, they explain what to do next, etc., etc.

      I will happily pay the higher prices, even when money is tight. My final story. We have all had to have a spare key or three made. Ever get out to your car or all the way home only to find out it doesn't work? At "MY" little ACE store, they make the key -- they follow me outside --they open every car door, the trunk, and make sure the key works in the ignition, Then they hand me the key, look me in the eye and say Thank you for your business, Young Lady!

      I will come back for the manners, the great service, their patience..oh yeah, and since I haven't been a "young lady" for well over twenty years, that is the icing on the cake. :) Sorry for going on and on. Great Hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, isn't that cool? We have a couple in our town that do things like that and, like you, I will pay the extra money for that kind of heartfelt service and gratitude. I know it makes no sense fiscally but I don't care.

      I love that they come out and make sure your doors all open. That's service we saw fifty years ago. And I agree, that "young lady" comment is worth its weight in gold. :)

      Thank you Theresa; you made my night with that comment.

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