Retail Expert Tells How To Scare Off Customers

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I was on the MSNBC Your Business program for their Halloween show. Yes, that's me in the devil cap with trident below.

They wanted me to take a few principles from my book, The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley) and give advice to do the opposite.

It was a bit hard at first to get my head around since four of the points are:

  • Serve the customer.
    Without training what this means, employees can think you mean you have to be a slave to the customer which isn't right.
  • Concentrate 100% on the person in front of you.
    You can live vicariously through the person shopping. Its fun to treat yourself so make sure you can be in that place instead of being jealous or judgemental.
  • Manage the space between your ears.
    I did an initial meeting with a client in Orange County once about a business makeover. He took two hours to tell/show me how a guy 30 miles away was using the same name and how he had hired a lawyer for copyright infringement. I passed, there was a reason this guy wasn't successful.
  • Leave your personal life at home.
    I get you think you can bring your child to work and "no one will notice" but we do. I get that you had a tough time getting to the bank but I don't need to hear about it. The person who can only live in high drama is usually too self-centered to serve a customer.

As you can see in the video link, these are what they became for my evil twin to comment on:

Don’t serve the customer.
In the old times the knights would bow down to royalty as a symbol of respect. Make sure your employees see themselves as royalty; setting themselves above the customer. That way they'll give an air that they are doing the customer a favor.

Don’t give them your full attention.
Find other things to do, take them for granted, don’t comment on their Facebook or Twitter tweets. Ignore them.

Concentrate on things you can’t control
Focus on your competitors offering online coupons, your lagging local economy, other businesses closing, fill in the blank. Only concentrate on things you can’t control so you can breed hopelessness and fear in yourself, your employees and your customers.

Make them cringe
Bring your problems to work – the more high drama – the better. Bonus: blame the vendor, the weather, the president or the economy for anything that goes wrong. Just complain and be miserable to attract more of the same.

One of my Twitter followers direct messaged me, "Nice segment on MSNBC. I sure meet a lot of retailers who follow your advice!"

Retail is not hard to do right but as they say, the "devil is in the details."

What say you?