Tonight I’m doing a repeat performance of last week’s Campfire Sing-Along at The Poison Frog Brewery. Last week I brought songbooks with the lyrics to forty-three songs from the likes of John Denver, The Eagles, Dobie Gray, Indigo Girls, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Beatles, Garth Brooks, and more. The evening went like this … Pick a song you want to sing and I’ll play it while we all sing it. Seemed simple enough, right?
Immediately people started asking for songs not on the list. They weren’t bad requests. I love Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. But they weren’t songs on the list or in the songbook with all the words. Still, people asked.
You know me. I’m all about making the customer happy. I’ve added a few of those requested songs to the list for tonight. I’ve added a few more songs as well.
What does that have to do with retail?
Every single retailer in America thinks they have a great selection of products just as much as I thought I had a great selection of songs. But there are products your customers come in asking for by name that you don’t have. There could be a good reason why you don’t have those products. Maybe you can’t get them. Maybe you don’t like the profit margins. Maybe you consider those products inferior to what you carry.
Keep in mind, however, if a customer stops in and asks if you have something, that means the customer thought of you as a place that would sell that product.
If your customers are constantly asking for certain items, maybe you need to reconsider carrying them. Or at the very least have a far better answer than either, “No,” or “We can’t get them.” If you keep saying, “No,” they will stop coming in and asking.
If it is something you either can’t get or simply don’t want to get because there is a better alternative, you could say, “No we don’t but can I show you something similar (better)?”
If it something you don’t carry and have never really thought about carrying, you could reply, “No we don’t. I’ll have to look into carrying that. Thanks for the suggestion.”
If a customer is asking, the customer thinks of you as a place that would have it. Wouldn’t it be great if you could say, “Yes we do,” more often than, “No we don’t,”?
PS My stock reply to requests not in the songbook is simply, “I’ll have to learn that for next time.” Usually I’m looking it up the very next day. If they think I can play it, I don’t want to disappoint them. Any time you can avoid saying “No” is a good time.