There are times when I look back to those days as a salesperson at Sears, where I went after the mill went down and spent 17-plus years selling tractors and tools.
I got to be a tool professional doing that, and with the help of some good associates who knew what they were doing, I started on my way to being a person who served others needing help in deciding what to buy.
I decided I wasn’t going to sell something a buyer did not need, and thus a good relationship between the seller and the buyer was what I wanted in my new position. Fellow employees like Rosie, Dwaine, Paul, Wick and Ned were there to answer questions if I did not know the answer. We were on commission, but when you sell something you don’t know much about, you can bet an angry customer was going to bring it back — and there went the commission.
Oh yes, folks, our checks took a dip whenever we get something back.
Anyway, I was working with Rosie Solomon one day and a man came in the door and started looking around. I just stood there waiting for the customer to make the first move, and Rosie motioned me over to him. He asked if I saw an old man come in, and I said yes. He said I should go right up to him and ask if he needed any help.
Seeing that the old man was pretty dirty and had old clothes on, I thought to myself I would be wasting my time because he probably would not buy anything. I could be working with a customer who would.
Rosie took me aside and said you don’t decide the worth of a customer by the way he looks and how he is dressed. Turns out the old man bought a new tractor and, boy, did I learn from that.
Anytime someone walks into a store, he or she is a potential customer. You let him or her know you are there to serve them and by doing that, you gain the confidence from them that they know who to look up when they want to buy something or to just look around. Those customers are the most important aspect of your client list for the rest of your tenure at the store.
I remember one day I was working with a customer, and Ned said he would take over. I wondered why. It seems the customer had forgotten to say he was there to buy from Ned and so, after moving aside and listening to Ned and his sales pitch, I found out the importance of the customer to the store and to those of us who worked there. I learned a lot just listening to Ned, and there were no hard feelings between him and me.
About a week later, Ned took care of one of my customers and rang it up in my number, giving me a nice start to my day.
That is what it is about. The working together of the sales people to make sure the customer comes first. So if you one day get a chance to work in a store, remember to acknowledge customers as they come through the door. Allow them to see what is available, and before they leave, let them know you want them to come back.
Good service is taking care of the customer. Don’t go off in a corner and wait for them to make the first move, because they might not come back without knowing they are welcome in your store. Let everyone know they are the reason you have a job. Treat all, including fellow employees, with grace because that is what they want. Greet them coming in and leaving, too.
Ray "Uncle Ray" Day is a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.