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Raise your stinking gate!


Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

It's 9:50 am. I'm in the mall, standing at a store's entrance, peering in through the gate that locks the store for the night. The employee is inside, chatting on the phone and sipping a soda. The marketing message I got by being kept waiting until exactly 10 a.m.?

My business was not all that important to her.

While I was pacing and making mental note to never visit this store again, it occurred to me that many of us do the same thing to our clients/customers. Now, you might not have a gate that keeps clients from entering your front door, but think about other "barriers" that might be in the way.

You can advertise "customer friendly" all you want, but if they stumble over obstacles when they come to buy, your clients will quickly get the "your business is not important to me" message.

Here are some of the places we might be slamming the gate down on our own customers:

Hours of operation. Are they convenient for you or for your customer?
Access. How well does your e-mail, website, phone system etc. work?  If a client is in a jam -- do they know how to get a hold of you this very second?
Promptness in returning calls. A client phone call is an order/sale waiting for confirmation.
Clarity in pricing and products/services. Do your customers know what you sell and how much it will cost? Does it actually cost them that much or are your invoices a little surprise?
Willingness to listen. When your client has an issue with you or your product, do you attempt to make adjustments or changes that demonstrate that you listened? Or do they get "reasons" why it has to be that way?

Want to really check? Call a couple clients that you've lost. Have a frank conversation. My bet is that somehow they could not get past a gate. Maybe it's a gate you don't even see. 

~ Drew, MMG's Top Dog


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I used to work in retail. We never, ever opened the gate before the appointed time for many reasons. Usually, there is only one person there to open so it's a security concern, and also, there are things you have to do to start up the register and tasks that need to be completed. However, I do agree that the mall should be open earlier in general.

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