Aug 8, 2008

Annoying Customers is NOT a Winning Strategy

I know this post has the potential to be controversial, but... I'm gonna say it anyway!

DOGS and CATS in a scrapbook store... (I can feel some of you fanning the flames already).

Two local scrapbook stores in my area have resident dogs. I stopped going in to both. I like dogs, just not in the scrapbook (or any other) store. Here's what happened:

Store one (now closed): They had a cute smallish dog (about 20 pounds) who was either darting out of their office just a couple feet from the front door when you came in OR, it was locked behind a baby-gate in the office and whined at you when you came in. It was a friendly dog. But, it was always underfoot or yowling to get out.

Store Two: a new store in my area. The first time I went, there were two lap-dogs penned in a baby gate pen right by the front door. They were friendly enough - too friendly actually. They yipped and yapped every time the door opened. Then, every time I came into view while I was shopping, they continued to whine for my attention. I found it VERY annoying.

Now, the little girl up the street from us is DEATHLY afraid of dogs of any type or size. Whenever a neighbor comes to the bus stop with their dog, she practically climbs a tree. So, her mom taking her into a store with dogs would be out of the question.

I'm allergic to cats. I can tell you have a cat the minute I walk into your home. I don't even have to see the cat. My stuffy nose tells me instantly you have one. I would get the same reaction in a store with a roving cat.

Most of you store owners who have pets in your scrapbook store would immediately and defensively tell me that your customers LOVE your pets being in there and that you keep them under control.

I'm sure many of your customers DO tell you that they love your pets. But, how many of your customers DON'T love your pets? Do you know? And, how many of your customers have stopped coming to your store BECAUSE of your pets? Those people aren't as easy to measure...

What I'm saying is that given these economic times and the fact that making a profit in a scrapbook store is hard enough no matter what the economy is doing, can you afford to alienate ANYONE with your pets? Are the pets worth the loss of revenue? And, no matter what you think, you ARE losing customers over the pets. Those people will come in, see the pets and then express their opinion over them silently by not returning.

You can get the same reaction with music. I've been in stores where the twangy country or loud heavy metal has literally driven me right out the door. I often hear that Christian music annoys people to the point they leave the store. I am always amazed when a store posts political or religious statements - both very polarizing swamps to wade into. You might be thinking, "Too bad! Get over it! It's MY business!" Yes, it is. But customers pay your bills. Annoy enough of them and you go broke.

I'm sure we are all aware of the Dixie Chicks and the controversy they created by criticizing American policy overseas. Country Music fans are largely conservative flag-waving patriots and they didn't take kindly to what was said. The Dixie Chicks were "punished" when they returned home. Former fans voted with their dollars and refused to buy their music or go to their concerts.

While trying to fill their Chicago concert (and not doing very well at it), they asked basketball legend, Michael Jordan, a fellow Democrat and friend of theirs, to help them sell tickets. His response was beautiful. He said, "No". His reasoning was that Republicans buy his tennis shoes just as much as Democrats do and he couldn't risk alienating half of his customers.

I am of the opinion that you should cater to the average person when you are a public business. Work hard to make as many people as possible feel welcome in your store. The last thing you want is for someone to leave your store and tell all their friends, "They have a DOG in there!" You'd rather they left your store and told their friends, "They have the BEST STUFF!"

Make your store inviting and friendly and leave your controversial pets, music and political or religious (unless that's your niche) opinions for your private life.


Ginny said...

I agree great post on everything you mentioned.

I know before all the hoopla with saying Happy Holidays, I did that with my ebay customers. I had many international customers & since I wasn't 100% sure on the way the celebrated holidays, I would use happy holidays since there are so many during that time period. I figured it would cover almost every ones preferences.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of little dogs and don't understand the sudden fascination with people bringing them EVERYWHERE...Starbucks, the grocery store, Barnes and Noble, etc. Even if they are the cutesy wootsiest little things ever, they do not belong in a public place of business. For the same reason I didn't bring in my 60 lb border collie. Yeah, he was cute and well-behaved but SOME people might be allergic, be afraid, be annoyed, it's unsanitary, etc. I also hate all the pit bull walking that goes on everywhere, even hiking trails and wine festivals (pit bulls just killed my dog and I'm deathly afraid of them, as are my kids). Please keep the pets at home, no matter how much YOU love them...because everyone else doesn't. Hee! Vent over..But a valuable point you make for business owners and, as a customer, I heartily agree :)

Tamara said...

Thank you!

The one and only store in my area has a small dog, and although I LOVE dogs I don't think they belong in a place of business. The dog runs in and out of the store every time the door is opened. It is annoying and frustrating.

Anonymous said...

I feel like a total schmuck!!! You've been in my home so many times and I never knew you were allergic to cats..You always said you were not a cat person and my cats came up to you...

If I had known you were allergic to cats I would have locked them in another part of the house so they wouldn't have come up to you.

I am sooooo sorry..Pls forgive me.