Biz Talk
Past Issues:

Come In, Be Our Guest

The extras that tell people they are welcome at your place of business

We all know that it is important to make customers feel welcome at your place of business. It makes a big impact, whether you are operating a retail establishment, or providing services and products where customers may have to spend time in a waiting room or reception area. You’ve probably already put a sign out front, perhaps with additional notice that says “open”; you may even have a “welcome” mat at the door. 

But what else might you do in order to say to each, individual customer, “I’m glad you’re here, and here is how I want to show you!”

By taking an extra step for personalized service, you set yourself apart from your competitors. Plus, if you are competing with online services, this is one way you can remind visitors that shopping face to face has its advantages.

Before you make a list, think about the people who come to your business. Are they business people who might enjoy a cup of coffee? Or parents with young children who would be glad to have a “toy” area? Do they own pets? Are they seniors? What language do they speak?

Now, check out these ideas:

  • Invest in a nice coffee machine and water cooler (make it clear that visitors are welcome to help themselves). 
  • Vary refreshments according to the season. On a cold, snowy or rainy day, offer free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and other treats. On a hot day, stock up on lemonade, cold water and iced tea. Guests will feel like VIPs if you offer them something more than run-of-the-mill tea and coffee.
  • Have some fresh fruit or healthy, wrapped snacks available (not cheap, stale candy).
  • Offer today’s newspapers in the lobby with a sticker that says, “Please feel free to take this newspaper with you, courtesy of ABC Company.”
  • Provide current magazines, not ones that are several years out of date. You might even want a few games. Especially if the wait could be long. 
  • If your customers speak a language besides English, have a few newspapers in another language.
  • Retail store on a busy street? Place pet water bowls outside. As strolling dog owners pause to let their pet drink, they’ll check out your store window. 
  • You can rent a photo booth for a week and encourage customers to take photos, share them on social media and tag your store. 
  • Provide a place to rest. Window shoppers often become real shoppers if their companions have a place to sit and rest while they browse. Inside, put a few chairs or an ottoman.
  • Entice parents into your store (and get them to spend more time there) by providing entertainment for their children. Set up a little area in the store with a play table, toys and books. 
  • Offer guests wi-fi, with wi-fi instructions posted.