Phil's Profit Point 5 – Don't Waste Your Customer's Time

Shopping at Canadian Tire on a Saturday morning is a bit of a tradition. Unfortunately, so is standing in a long and slow-moving line as there are often only one or two cashier lines open.

This major Canadian retail icon spends kazillions on television advertising that are bombarding prime time on TV and on weekly 20 page flyers stuffing my mailbox. All this advertising gets us into the store. Yet once we’re there, we’re frustrated with long line ups.

If you want to increase the number of customers and how much they spend with you, you have to make it easy and quick for them to do business with you. That means getting in, finding our stuff, and getting out. It’s about throughput, efficiency and speed.

It would be great if Canadian Tire adopted Tim Hortons model of speed, serving customers hot coffee approximately every 20 to 30 seconds, based on my unscientific research on my last drive through experience. The time clocks on the wall and computer screens show everyone’s order and wait time for the drive through. In fact, the drive through can be faster than the walk-in traffic.

If you want to increase the number of customers in your business, here are three tips:

  1. Put what customers need at the front of the store. When it’s raining, Wal-Mart puts the umbrellas up front. Grocery stores hide the milk in the furthest corner.
  2. Train people on how to help  the customer. When you ask a clerk at Safeway where the Red Rose tea is, they will take you to the tea section, help you find what you’re looking for and practically put it in your hands. When you ask a clerk at Canadian Tire where the electrical tape is, they’ll tell you it’s in aisle three.
  3. Make it quick and painless for customers to pay. One large department store has cashiers all over the place and it’s usually much faster to go to one of these mini cashiers instead of standing in ‘express’ line.

Advertising is expensive and beyond the reach (or need) of many small and medium businesses. By focusing your energy on improving your customer experience, you will increase the number of customers who want to do business with you.

What can you do to improve the customer experience, reduce their time, and increase the likelihood they’ll come back?

Copyright Phil Symchych 2011. All Rights Reserved.

0 thoughts on “Phil's Profit Point 5 – Don't Waste Your Customer's Time”

  1. You would think that businesses would make it easy to buy and to pay, but they don’t always. I remember trying to pay a hotel for their meeting room after a workshop I hosted. I had to return 3 times to get them to take my money.

    Good point, Phil. Thanks.

    Sally Strackbein

    1. Tim Hortons’ capacity sometimes depends on the street traffic behind the lineup. They’ve created their own traffic jams. It still seems faster to go through the drive-through than through the restaurant line-up. Thanks for your comment.

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