Monday, February 15, 2010

Got Hugs?

When was the last time you went into a retailer and the owner gave you a hug?
I got one on Saturday. Again.
I went into the very chic San Francisco clothier Wilkes Bashford to see what changes a new owner would make in a store that has a very exalted reputation--and prices to match.
Only this time, there was a huge store-wide sale on, and the new owner, Jack Mitchell was walking the floor, a traditional measuring tape draped around his neck.
I got an introduction. Then I got a hug. Then I got an autographed copy of one of Jack's books in his "hugging" series. This one is called "Hug Your Customer."
The idea is simple. If you want to make and keep a customer (Peter Drucker's definition of the purpose of every business) you need to build a personal relationship based on hugs, or very close touches. You need to know the customer's family, his dog's name, his golf handicap. You need to extend every possible courtesy: Make your office, your cell phone, your computer available if the customer needs some help. Make introductions, enable business relations--do what ever it takes to hug the customer in a physical touch that shows you know him and appreciate his business.
I came away impressed with Jack. And even more impressed when I walked back into the store a day or two later--and got another hug.
So here's the question: Do you hug your customers? Do you show them that they matter to you as more than just a transaction?
And when it comes time for you to shop, do you patronize stores where you get hugged? Do you reward a salesman who gives you the kind of attention that Jack does? Do you punish those who don't?
I'm not a big hugger--I told Jack as much when we first met.
But I am a fan of a retailer with a philosophy and a set of practices that back up that philosophy. (What Jack does with computers to build a back-office data base to make it easier to hug each customer is the practical, disciplined approach to doing business that makes each hug possible.)
It's worth picking up Jack's book.
And it's even better to pick up his idea: Put a little fun in your business--try hugging.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb