The quality of customer wait time can greatly affect your bottom line
Small business owners who find themselves with lots of customers waiting in line need to turn wait time into anticipation time. Put simply, get your customer’s mind off the waiting and focused on your product or service. A recent Saturday morning found my husband and teenage sons at the local barber – one of three shops that are literally within a stone’s throw of each other. However, this particular business is by far the most popular in the neighborhood.
But even as the most sought-after haircut in town, the wait can be foreboding. Many times on this day, customers walked in, saw the long wait, turned around, and walked out the door. What are small business owners to do?
Lost business? Yes. Lost customer? Perhaps.
If your small business draws a crowd that needs to wait for assistance, such as physicians, barber shops, nail salons, auto repair stores, and beauty parlors, there are several ways you can encourage customers to stay and (patiently) wait their turn.
- Greetings from The Greeter. Have someone stationed right at the door – receptionist, cashier or, in this particular instance, head barber – who understands the flow of traffic. This person needs to not only acknowledge the next customer and make him or her feel welcome, but remember the order in which they arrived so that “Who’s next?” isn’t an unorderly scramble.
- Timing Is Everything. We’ve all had to wait for service somewhere in our lives, followed by an interminable delay. Often without an honest answer as to how long you will have to wait. Be honest about the wait time and be kind to customers who can’t stay, providing another time that may work for them. If a customer seems upset, have coupons on hand to ease their inconvenience.
- Create an Inviting Atmosphere. waiting area design is important. When a wait is inevitable make your surroundings pleasant for customers. Have a fresh pot of coffee or water cooler prominently displayed and conveniently located. Donuts or light snacks score bonus points. Toys for the kids, TV for the adults, and current magazines that are appropriate for all audiences are additional pluses. At a recent dentist’s visit, the big screen tv showed panoramic views of major cities and faraway lands, which were absolutely memorizing.
In today’s hurry-up world, no one likes to wait. But sometimes – and at some small businesses – it’s simply what occurs during the course of the day. Keep your waiting customers comfortable and they will reward you by coming back.