There is a sense of entitlement that customers have today that hasn’t always been evident. Marshall Field, the American department store owner coined the phrase, “Right or wrong, the customer is always right”. I opine whether he took into consideration the type of customers who are price conscious, yet expect the deepest appreciation for their having done business with us.
I don’t blame these customers. I earn the money I make, and I want to keep as much of it as possible. Even if that means driving all over town to save one- or two-hundred dollars on my $20,000 purchase (which, if I think about it, is only a 1% discount). But there is the thrill of the negotiation, too: how much can I get in free stuff for the money I spend?
So here is a new twist on Mr. Field’s phrase: “Right or wrong, the Customer is always tight”. That doesn’t mean we should treat them any differently. On the contrary, we should be thinking of creative ways to foster that sense of entitlement and help them save money.
If my twist on the above phrase is true, then think about it some more, dissect it and place the emphasis on a different word: the customer is always tight, whether they are negotiating for a vehicle, buying gas, ordering pizza, or renting a car.
You can help your guests save money, earn their respect and their business by leveraging your customer base. Get other merchants in your community to discount their prices or give away free stuff to your customers.
For starters, consider all the small business owners in your community. Make a list of merchants who sell high-frequency sundry products, like meals in restaurants, dry cleaning, or groceries. Partner with them to send your customers to their establishments in exchange for an agreed-upon discount. You’re exchanging free promotion to your customers, and merchants are happy for the free publicity. You could call it “the tight customers club,” and I would be your first member.
When selecting merchants partners, take into consideration their level of competition in the community. If they have no competition, they will be less likely to offer a discount. Also, make sure the discounts merchants are willing to offer are strong, so customers are less likely to find them anywhere else. Lastly, take the smell test: what’s your impression of the merchant? You don’t want to align yourself to a business with a bad reputation.
Once you’ve established your little club, you’ll need a medium for the merchants to identify your Members. This could be in the form of a card, a key chain, or a tattoo. Just take into consideration that you want there to be an expiration date, so your customers will be compelled to come back for future vehicles.
When you get compelling discounts for customers from your merchant friends, the $200 they might have saved at the competition will dissolve in the face of the potentially thousands of dollars they will save in the club. Instead of saving 1% off my vehicle purchase, I could save 10 to 15% over the course of a year.
Train your salespeople to show your prospects the value during the sales process. For example, if only one merchant offers a “buy-one-get-one-free” meal, and the average meal costs $10, the customer only needs to go to that restaurant ten times in a year to save $100.
What’s more, this gives your salespeople something to get past “hello.” A customer benefit like this moves the conversation away from price and helps your staff begin to build a real relationship with customers, which ultimately will bring those customers back again.
Here’s what will happen: Customers will be carrying your name in their wallets, on their key ring, or printed on their forearm (if you go that route). They’ll be members of an Exclusive Club: Your Tight Club. Every time they use their Membership, they’ll be thinking of what great value you brought to their entitled, price-conscious lives. That’s a Customer for Life. That’s advertising you can’t buy. And it’s a value your competition won’t be able to offer. Unless they offer it first.
Paul Long is the President of the re:member group, and one of the tightest customers on the planet. He can be can be contacted by visiting www.remembergroup.com.