How To Walk The Floor And Talk To Customers

By: John Stanley


This may seem a strange topic to introduce. Yet, it is the most under-used skill by many retail managers, but one of the most important roles in their supervision.

1. You Are the Maitre of Your Business

Your role is take that of a maitre d’hotel. You should meet your guests (customers), welcome them and ensure they leave with a positive feeling about your business. You should set aside at least one hour a day to walk the store and talk to customers.

2. Overcoming Embarrassment

Many owners will not walk the floor and talk to customers because they get embarrassed starting a conversation. If this applies to you, then take out a sample of products and ask customers to try them. This always starts a conversation and then you can ask them what they think about your store.

3. Clean the Tables

An alternative approach is to clean the tables in a restaurant or work on bag filling at the checkout. These are ideal locations to start a conversation and really find out what customers are thinking about your store.

4. Walking The Floor Should Be Done Openly

When walking the floor introduce yourself to the customer as the owner. Get them to provide you with ideas on how they believe you could improve the service to your customers.

5. Vary The Time Of Day You Walk The Store

It used to be traditional for owners to walk the store at opening time. This is still a strong tradition in Japan where it still is a very formal arrangement. You will gain more from varying the time of day that you actually walk around. This will enable you to meet different customers and see your team and store at different activity points.

6. How Much Time Should You Spend On The Floor

Some of the leading retailers spend as much as 20% of their time walking the store. They also believe this is the most important and enjoyable part of their working week.

7. Feed Back The Ideas

Make sure you feed back comments to your team. Remember, praise in public, reprimand in private. Your team will be interested in your comment. Make sure they are aware of why your walking the floor. Make sure you talk to them as you walk the floor. This will relax them and make them feel your part of their team.

Management Memo
A message from McDonald’s

One day while on his way back to the office from an important lunch in the best restaurant in town, Ray Kroc, owner of the McDonald’s chain in the United States, asked his driver to pass through a few McDonald’s car parks. In one he spotted papers caught up in shrubs along the outer fence.

He immediately went to the nearest pay phone, called his office to get the name of the manager, then called the manager to offer to help him pick up the offending rubbish.

Both the owner of the McDonald’s chain in his expensive business suit and the young manager met in the carpark and got down on their hands and knees to pick up the paper.

As managers we are frequently more interested in the activity inside our business premises than in the building’s outside appearance. The appearance of your building and it’s surrounds is at the front line of your organisation’s public image – as Ray Kroc was well aware.

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John Stanley is a conference speaker and retail consultant with over 20 years experience in 15 countries, and has authored several successful marketing and retail books including the best seller Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know. www.johnstanley.cc

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