One change in your business that will pay for your child’s or grandchild’s college

by Joel Stark, JFE Marketing Director


Perhaps your home or your adult child’s home is blessed with the silence of no little ones running around. But for many of us there is a magical kid or kids whose future we’re concerned about, especially if we’re planning for their higher education.

As you’ve no doubt heard in the news or personally experienced, an education now costs the same as a house. Assuming that special child or children go to college, who will pay for it?

There is one thing many small business owners are not doing that, in the case of a Snowfox grab-n-go kiosk, can increase your annual sales by $15,000 to $20,000 a year.

I can only make this bold claim after years of observing your customer service habits in the store and their relation to your sales. (I was the tall, nerdy-looking white guy who couldn’t seem to make up his mind while looking in your case.)

Among the best practices of retailers and restaurants known for their customer loyalty and who consistently experience annual sales growth, there is one practice most of them share: building brand loyalty by surveying new or hesitant customers.

Simply put, surveying is learning about your customers with simple questions instead of boring retail customer services lines they’ve heard a million times (like “Can I help you find anything?”)

Before I explain, let’s talk about that giant number I gave you: $15,000 to $20,000 a year. It represents a 5% weekly sales increase in our average Snowfox store. Here’s the math:

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The great news is that unlike other factors affecting sales, surveying doesn’t depend on how busy your store is and it costs you nothing in food or labor. And the bonus? I didn’t even include the interest you could accrue from saving or investing your additional net (A hint… it’s over $25,000).

Let’s get to it so you can start surveying today.

The scenario is a familiar one. A customer walks into your store and gazes intently at your case. If you’re a proud business owner concerned about sales, you greet the guest and ask, “Can I help you find anything?”

How does the customer usually respond? You know the answer not only from your grab-n-go business but because you, too, have been that customer. “I’m just looking.” is the most common reply.

You may even get the same reply if he or she asks the customer, “How are you today?”

“Good. Good. Just looking.”

Surveying, simply put, is asking your customer a better question. Open-ended questions (queries that don’t prompt only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer) like What’s your favorite? or How long have you been eating sushi? help you learn more about your customer. Ultimately, sincere questions provide an opportunity for you to either a.) answer what your guest really wants to know, or b.) educate them about your menu.

According to an American Express survey a few years ago, 80% of Americans agree that smaller businesses place a greater emphasis on service than large ones. Are you among the few who don’t greet their guests or learn about them? When you survey, you are now projecting the image of a small business owner you actually are and not that of a grocery worker.

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The consequences of not surveying are as striking as the benefits of doing it. I can tell you from dozens of observations that at the thankfully-few Snowfox kiosks where the chef did not speak to me as I looked at the case, their weekly sales consistently performed below 1% of total store sales. Most importantly, these chefs could at least be saying “Thank you” after a customer looks at their product in the case. Imagine the difference it could make simply acknowledging potential loyal customers!

Your business and loved ones almost certainly depend upon those few percentage points in sales. We can’t control inevitable expenses like college tuition, but getting to know the people upon whom your sales depend is a change you can make today to support the most important people in your life: your family. TSS