Don’t entice customers into your premises or website only to have them walk out in disgust.
Marketing is a process that should be in operation from the creation of initial awareness through to the physical point of purchase.
Whether you are a garage business, accessory retailer or motor factor, your existing and potential customers are picking up signs and signals all the time and at different stages of the buying process.
You’d like to think that the purchasing process is as simple as running an advert, the customer sees what they want, then the customer comes to you to make a purchase – job done. If only it was that easy.
The problem is many focus on the early stages of their marketing, for example creating initial awareness, but neglect other aspects closer to the point of sale; failing to realise that there is still the potential for what is known as ‘threshold resistance’.
Threshold Resistance is the title of a book written by retailing pioneer A. Alfred Taubman who states that ‘Threshold Resistance is the physical and psychological barrier that stands between a shopper and the inside of a store’. Of course, these days Threshold Resistance applies equally, if metaphorically, to online selling too (websites can give out the wrong selling signals).
Ask yourself if you’ve ever come across a retailer or business where you just couldn’t bring yourself to go in? There are times when threshold resistance occurs, when there’s no reason for it to be there. This is when there are physical aspects to a business that are repelling customers.
So, you’ve done all the heavy marketing lifting, you’ve invested a lot of money in attracting customers and you’ve brought them to the point of purchase. Unfortunately, the job isn’t finished here, you can’t yet guarantee the sale – you’ve got to get the customer through the door. If this doesn’t happen, you’ve blown all that investment in marketing so far, which is why businesses also have signage and point of sale displays – to help customers.
But the reality is often customers are getting as far as the business ‘threshold’, be it a physical retail outlet, garage or online website, but resisting because they’re receiving the wrong signals. One of the biggest signals people base their judgements on at this stage of the marketing process is how your business and the people within it look.
But there are still certain types of business that could do so much more to improve their perception, but have resisted making improvements to their physical environment. Unfortunately, many automotive outlets remain in this category. Many obviously consider that they fall outside of this customer judgment arena. Well they may have in the past, but in an area where the dealerships and chains are seeming to excel, the independents must follow or risk losing out.
Customer intimidation is a term that could be swapped with threshold resistance. It’s another thing that will destroy a sale.
In areas where customers lack knowledge and expertise, it is natural for them to feel a little
uneasy when making a purchase. Not only do they not want to make bad decisions, they also don’t want to be laughed out of the shop either.
It is well known that some people, especially women, do feel intimidated by the garage environment. But I would say that garages, retailers and motor factors aren’t the only culprits. There are other trade counters such as plumbing, electrical and builder’s merchants that could make positive improvements through tidying up their appearance and coming across as less intimidating to customers.
To customers, little things do matter. Customers do notice when furniture is threadbare, when floors and walls are dirty, when an environment is just plain untidy and this does reflect on their judgement. I once read an article about an airline where the CEO remarked that if a customer found a coffee stain on their fold-down table in front of their seat, they would think that the airline didn’t take care when maintaining its engines.
The same could be said of delivery or company liveried vehicles – if these are dirty,
what sort of signals are they giving out to people who see them? And what about dress- sense and personal cleanliness?
Okay, garage environments can be dirty, but simple procedures can mitigate the customer having to see or witness this – we’re talking dirty overalls and hands here. You’ll notice that the likes of Halfords have tidy-looking staff.
A very simple example that I particularly notice is when an independent garage or retailer, provides their employees with liveried overalls or shirts – this is something that is expected in big retail, but to me, an independent that goes to the trouble of putting their logo on clothing is more likely to apply more attention to detail on larger issues.
In the grand scheme of all things marketing, the recommendation is don’t be deliberately putting people off buying from you. Improving your premises and how you look could be one of the most cost effective investments you could make to your business.