Have you ever pulled into an automobile dealership to look for a car on a slow afternoon? You usually find a half dozen hungry car salespeople sitting together like vultures waiting for their next meal to show up, and guess what, that’s you. Whoever is “up” makes a bee-line straight for you. Almost always, the first thing from their mouth is “Can I help you?” Your answer is almost invariably, “Just looking”.
Of course, the repartee is total nonsense. Who goes to an automobile dealership to “just look”. Anyone who chooses to walk a parking lot of new and used cars or walk into an automotive showroom is in the market for a car. You know it. They know it. That scene plays out hundreds of thousands of times a day in every type of retail business. A potential customer walks in the door and is immediately approached by a salesperson head-on with that terrible question, “May I or can I help you?” The instinctive customer reaction? We almost all turn our invisible force field to try and push away the salesperson by saying “just looking”.
Turn Just Looking Into Thank You
How is optical any different? With very few exceptions, every person who walks into your optical shop is in the market for a new pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses. Most optical shops follow the same old script of approaching the potential customer straight on with that tired “may I help you?” question. And what answer do we get from the question? “Just looking”, of course. How about turning “just looking” into “thank you”?
When someone walks into your store or shop, give them a little time to decompress. Most quality retail stores have a decompression zone at the front. An area with no product and no signage, just a step or two inside the door. This is a neutral zone. One should never approach a customer standing there. Let them acclimate and move further into your shop before approaching them.
Approach Customers At An Angle
However, instead of walking straight up to them, grab a prop and approach them from an angle instead of head on. What sort of prop? Something noticeable like some eyewear or cases you want to return to the shelves or some piece of POP you will move from point A to point B just for this exercise. Instead of approaching them head on, you will walk past them without blocking them. As you do, offer a greeting like “Good morning, feel free to look around. I’ll be back in just a moment”.
By not putting the customer immediately on the spot, you are much more likely to get a “thank you” than a “just looking”. The customer will let their guard down and you can then come back from your busy work and find out what they are in your shop seeking and how you can help solve whatever problem they have.