One company has several locations in a large market. They rent equipment and sell related supplies. One store was bright, well-organized and clean. Like many equipment companies, they had racks of brochures and they, too, were neat and full. The counter was free of clutter — everything looked great.
Another location owned by the same company was just the opposite. The floors and shelves were dirty and dusty. The rental counter was a mess — papers everywhere. The signage was crooked and outdated.
The appearance of a rental store is part of the first impression that customers see and it needs to be positive. Having a clean and orderly branch is often indicative of the pride employees have in their company. Customers do notice these things and it is part of how they view a company.
An equipment rental company lends itself to dirt and dust. However, there are things you can do to make a store a welcoming and pleasant place for customers.
n Pretend you are a customer. You are at your branch every day and often you forget what it looks like. For example, you don’t notice any litter in the parking lot or dust on shelves, however your customers might. Take a fresh look at your store. What is your impression? Compare it to other locations in your company and see what you can do differently. Take a paper and pen to record things that can be improved.
n Set an example. If you are a manager, set the tone for how you want your store to look. Take the time to straighten the brochures or pick up the trash. Your employees will notice and follow your lead. Set standards for appearance and follow those standards.
n Share the load. Keeping your store clean and orderly isn’t the responsibility of a couple of people or a cleaning crew, if you have one. Everyone owns it. Divide the jobs and make them part of your team’s responsibility. It is all part of building a team focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience.
n No excuses. You have to resist the variety of excuses people will have for not pitching in and keeping your store clean. You have heard them all: “We are too busy,” “We do not have enough staff” and “There is construction on the road in front of the location.” While all these could be a reality, there always will be excuses unless you make the appearance of your location a priority.
When a company has a special visitor, such as a member of the corporate management team, you will likely go out of the way to clean the store and deliver that great impression. Why don’t all of your customers deserve that same treatment?
The customer experience includes many components ranging from answering the phone to delivering equipment to the appearance of your staff members and store. A clean store that delivers a great impression will help your employees take more ownership in your company and have a positive impact on your customers.
Barry Himmel is a senior vice president for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, Ohio-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. Signature also offers several training sessions geared towards the rental industry. For more information, call 800-398-0518 or visit signatureworldwide.com.