When I was working with a client to improve their retail management, they put me up at the Crown Plaza. I hadn’t stayed at a Crown Plaza before so I asked the driver of the shuttle, “Isn’t this part of Holiday Inn?” He replied it was and the guy next to me and I started razzing him a bit about it. “Great, flashing star, tired lounge, nice.”
The driver quickly picked up, “No really, we’re great. There are 160 Crowne Plaza properties in the US and we are #2 in terms of quality. Our bar is very cool and features a fire pit. All rooms have a 42” plasma TV and on Tuesday and Wednesday night we have free massages.”
We shut up, this sounded like a good place to stay.
The interior looked like a swanky LA or NY hotel. I checked in and was assisted by Jenny who did a great job, friendly, outgoing; you could build a business on her. Just like the shuttle driver, she and the other front desk agents were proud of this property. Their enthusiasm was genuine.
As I finished up, Jason, the guy who rode in the shuttle said he was really hungry and Jenny added, “You can eat at the bar if you want.” Jason touched my shoulder, "Hey, there's the firepit."
I was dog-tired; he wanted to get something to eat so we split up but not before I was able to notice the bar. Under every low-hanging blue halogen spot was a full martini glass full of a bright red liquid. The rest of the bar was spot lit throughout with three blue candle holders lit on the tables. Very high-end and inviting. Like any great retail display it drew customers and the bar was full.
Spot lit red martini glasses
I went to my room and unpacked then figured, what the heck, I’d go back down and have a drink with Jason. I found him chatting up a couple of conventioneers and got ready to sit down when he turned to me, “I’ve been waiting 15 minutes for anyone to take my order.” I thought, Hmm, maybe not, excused myself and left.
The next night Jason was arriving with the rest of their convention goers as I was waiting in the lobby for my free massage. “Good thing you didn’t wait, took forever to get my steak. It was great but … they did it again tonight. Three guys had ordered their drinks and couldn’t get anyone to give them the bill, they walked out to get on our bus. I’m sure the waiter was upset but they lost the business.”
After my massage, I went to the bar to order dessert. The barkeep told me they had cheesecake, berry sorbet and two other items. I ordered the berry sorbet. She came back two minutes later, “Sorry sir, we’re out.”
Point of this post is you can spend millions on having the prettiest store, best location - the works but if you can’t follow that up consistently with as exceptional an experience, you fail.
The next morning, the bar was reset to yellow liquid in the martini glasses. Spectacular to draw attention
In retail you are known more for your compromises than your designs, products or store design.
The repeat business goes to those who can live up to the expectation they set for the customer whether that is your four walls, your website or product claims. And that can change with the person you leave in charge or your lack of scheduling to demand.
To find out more how to create an exceptional experience using the Retail Doctor's online retail sales training, go here.