Author Topic: Making the client feel important  (Read 891 times)

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Offline Todd Muskopf

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Making the client feel important
« on: April 07, 2017, 12:29:24 PM »
This is huuuge.  Really big.  So important.

I'm gonna start this by talking about my recent purchase of a 1D X Mark II.  Feel free to chip in with your own anecdotes.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were out and about and near the only local camera store left in Dayton.  They'd bought out all the others. I've been planning and saving for the 1DX2 since late last year, and I was ready to buy.  I'd seen a story on Petapixel a week or so before about local camera stores closing, and it made me feel a little guilty, so I asked my wife if we could stop in since we were close. She decided to stay in the car and I went in.

I walk in and there's one salesman helping an older couple and one salesman helping a mother and daughter.  I go up and stand next to the Canon dslrs in the case.  The guy with the mother and daughter takes them over to the far side of the store to look at tripods or something.  I wait. 

They people near me are asking the salesman "I know this doesn't take film, what do we have to use?" and other questions like that.  I wait.  I'm patient.

I look at the Canon cameras--the highest end cam they have in stock is a 5D Mark III.  Not much to look at.  I wait.

I decide to walk to the back of the store and look around.  I see there's another salesman in a room talking to someone, probably giving some sort of "know your camera" lesson or something.  I couldn't tell.  Totally bored, I walk back to stand by the Canon case. I'm getting irritated.

Why am I irritated?  Because I feel like a ghost.  No one has looked at me.  No one has acknowledged my presence. No one said "Hi, is there something I can point you to while I'm taking care of these people? I'll be with you in a minute."  Nope.

So, I stare at the floor, feeling like I'm wasting my time and that of my wife who is waiting in the car.

I decide that 10 minutes was long enough, so I decided to leave.

As the door opened, one of the sales guys, the one that had been helping the mother and daughter, looked over and said "thanks for coming in".  I laughed and left.

So, that's the story of how the local Dodd Camera in Dayton, Ohio lost a $6,250 sale (before tax).

I felt no remorse giving B&H my business. 

Pay attention to the people who try to do business with you. 
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 12:30:57 PM by Todd Muskopf »

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2017, 01:28:40 PM »
Absolutely perfect, Todd.  Unfortunately, poor training of the staff is what that's about, and too many small shops are rife with poor training.

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 02:00:45 PM »
I totally felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she had the dude's credit card and they wouldn't wait on her.


Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2017, 04:08:11 PM »
Great scene of justified retribution when she comes back and blows them off.  That's still possible for you.

Offline Duck

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2017, 06:58:35 PM »
Unfortunately with internet sales the small shops are becoming like the dinosaur. In my neck of the woods we have a small camera shop and over the years I have noticed they cater less to the pros and more to the general consumer. The majority of their cameras on display are point and shoots but I understand the logistics of catering to who's going to be paying their bills. My particular local store is very well aware of their standing in comparison to both B&H and Adorama (both of them are two hours driving time from me) and make it a point to step up their customer appreciation. This is instilled in all their employees by the general manager, who keeps good tabs on his crew.

Unfortunately not every store has a savvy manager, as was in your case, but I like the idea of doing a Pretty Woman moment. Even if it's to just educate their staff on how to better attend to customers in the future. But that's me. I'd walk in there with the brand new, shiny camera, place it on the counter and then wait for someone to inquire about it. Then I'd point to it and say, "this is the camera I wanted to buy from you guys, but no one gave me a second glance so I took my business elsewhere. I just wanted you to see what you lost out on." Then I would ask to talk to a manager and explain what happened with the hopes they'd correct it in the future.

I've done it before because as a business owner myself, I would hope someone would alert me to potential problems in my business.
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2017, 09:03:56 AM »
Good point about catering to who's coming in and paying the bills, Duck.  As you said, its not an excuse for poor customer service, however.  All justifiable retribution aside (and I'd feel like doing it, no doubt), alerting the management is the best outcome of Todd's situation at this stage. 

The demise of the local brick and mortar specialty store is the most regrettable side effect of internet sales, as is the lack of hands-on customer service that usually accompanied it, whether for hardware, records (music for the younger set), books, cameras, fishing tackle - you name it.  I don't regret the lower prices and greater access the internet has fostered, until I realize there's no longer a local expert to go talk with as I evaluate the best possible purchase.  When this forum started in 2009, I was still trumpeting the "buy local" mantra.  I hear rumors that local shops are on a come-back in some cities and in certain niches.  I don't think camera gear is among them - yet.

Offline Duck

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2017, 10:13:17 AM »
Unfortunately I can't say I was a strong supporter of local businesses. When I was first starting out I was on a shoestring budget and I would price shop on the internet. As you said, the downside is lack of support and, for me, that tactile experience. I would often go into a brick and mortar store, browse, compare, get a 'feel' for a product t hen find the lowest price on the internet. If the price break wasn't significant I'd buy local, but often the savings justified shopping online.
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2017, 02:04:27 PM »
And without indicting anyone, the hands-on shopping/online buying was behind my 2009 concern. It ran up the overhead in expensive inventory at the store because there was no appropriate return on the investment in goods for sale, less return with which to keep qualified help or the store open, because the money they should have earned was going to the online seller who didn't have to meet the same criteria to make the sale.   

I miss camera stores.  There are none in Frederick, the second largest city in MD, any more. There were two when I moved here 6 years ago.  Calumet, a 60 minute drive away, closed 3-4 years ago, leaving only those in Baltimore or the greater D.C. area. That's 1.5-2 hours each way in the worst traffic in the country.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 02:11:12 PM by Jeff Behm »

Offline Houston George

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2017, 11:19:39 PM »
The camera store near me that I've patronized for over 20 years was bought by a regional store chain (Bedford camera) two years ago. I was on a first name basis with the previous owner and most of the  employees, most of whom were 20-30 year veterans who really knew their stuff. After the previous owner sold out, a couple of the long term employees retired and I think only two others were retained. The difference I see now is that the Bedford people can rattle off specs and features without stumbling, but they lack the real world experience and advice the older guys could offer.

To echo what Duck just said, about 5 years ago the owner of the store told me that he estimated that for every 20 people who came in to look at and hold a camera, only one actually purchased while the others went home and bought online. The fact that online sales outpace the brick and mortar's make it even more of a head-shaker that Todd had that experience. One would think that the struggle to compete would result in major butt kissing on the part of the sales people.
Houston

Offline Nanette Reid

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2017, 01:46:36 AM »
Having worked in retail for nearly 15 years, this is *the* biggest bug-bear when I shop. How hard is it to acknowledge your presence and let you know that someone will attend to you asap?

We have a local electronics and furniture store here in AUS and the owner is continuously bemoaning the advent and appeal of online shopping as this doesn't entail tax if purchased overseas for under $AUD1000. I took my mother to look at some furniture a couple of weeks back - not something I'd be purchasing online or from overseas, and we walked around for a good 15 minutes. They weren't busy - in fact, I'm pretty sure we were the only ones in the furniture area, and it was only as we were actually leaving the store, that a staff member even bothered to approach us.

Needless to say, my folks bought from a local, family owned store instead - one that acknowledged them even though they were busy with another customer and who took the time to assist them with ordering exactly what they wanted.

If the bricks and mortar stores can't even get the most basic retail skills right, IMHO they have no right to whinge and whine that people are choosing to shop elsewhere. Personally, I want to handle camera gear to see if it's the right fit; sure I do all my research online, but when it comes to parting with that cold, hard green stuff I'm happy to buy locally.

Sadly though, the cost of gear in AUS is ridiculously priced at times and when it hasn't been an urgent, "need it now" purchase, I have bought from overseas - $2k difference is a big chunk of change. But it's not just overseas purchases - my last 5D MKII was purchased interstate for $700 less than my local store and it was shipped for $15.00 arriving 2 days later. Locally, they had to order from Canon Australia and it was going to be 7-10 days before I would get it.

I'm really want to support my local dealers, but gee, they sure are making it difficult to remain loyal. :(

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2017, 07:23:44 AM »
One thing I don't get is why the local chain doesn't reach out to local pro photographers?

I've been approached by numerous US and overseas companies wanting me to hire them to do my retouching.  If they can find me so easily, why can't the local camera store figure out that I exist?

Really, how stupid are they?

If I'm a pro and have a good local following, I'm going to be continually buying new equipment.  It would be pretty obvious that they would want to be my supplier.

When I actually walk into their store and stand there, and they still don't take care of me, it makes you wonder.

What's more, when I walked in, I was wearing my long black overcoat and fedora with a big button that said "The Classic Beauty Project" on it.

Since this is just how I look in my profile pic on the CBP fb page which now has over 9,100 likes, I don't know what else I could've done?  Walk in with a basket full of $100 bills and lay it on the counter?

I'm not trying to be egotistical with my comment, but I think they really should be familiarizing themselves with their local pro photographers.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2017, 09:26:26 AM »
In Pittsburgh during the 2000's and before, there were 3 big camera stores in town, all competing for pro as well as hobbyist business. What really sent my business to one Pgh store over the others was when they started having a very knowledgeable rep call on studios.  He almost always got a paper and film order and frequently new equipment as well.  It was he who told me about a new wireless trigger mechanism, known at that time as FlashWizard.  I bought a trigger and receiver because he tapped into the dislike of cables and PC connections most of us had at that time.  Cost a lot, but the point is, he made that sale because he sought photographers out, explained a benefit and made it easy.

There is a great deal of common sense in that most recent post, Todd.  I know the restaurateurs and the jewelers in town, for that very reason.  Of course I often stop in and see how they are and talk about their needs, not expecting a sale at the moment, but staying front of mind.  For a camera shop operator to do likewise with the various pros and studios in the area in this era of email and web presence is so simple it boggles the mind the they don't.

By the way, if you haven't already, check out Roberts Camera in Indianapolis, around 60 years in business.  They're still brick and mortar and not so terribly far as to be impossible if you wanted to (I know...2 hrs, but that's a given for me to get to all the stores in my area, even though its only 50 miles). 
« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 09:33:37 AM by Jeff Behm »

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2017, 07:46:15 PM »
There was a really good local store, Fairborn Camera that had been in business for decades.  I bought most of my stuff there.  Then, Click Camera bought them, then Dodd Camera bought Click and closed the Fairborn store.  I believe Dodd has 2 locations in Dayton, one in Cincinnati, one in Columbus, and 6 in Cleveland.

A Google search for "camera store dayton ohio" brings up the two Dodd stores--no other stores.  I guess they've been bought up and closed down.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2017, 09:42:25 PM »
Columbus Camera comes to mind too.  I've done business with both them and Roberts. Just as options to Dodd.

Offline Jenny Gavin-Wear

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2017, 06:58:29 PM »

30 years ago I was in retail.  That would NOT have happened in any shop I managed.  Disgraceful.

I would have walked out, too.

Offline Sbuchanan

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2017, 07:45:22 PM »
1.  I agree with most of the sentiments expressed so far.  Yes I miss my local camera shop. Yes, I'm glad I didn't pour my blood sweat and tears into running one. (classic buggy whip event)


30 years ago I was in retail.  That would NOT have happened in any shop I managed.  Disgraceful.

I would have walked out, too.

2. I managed a 7-Eleven in high school and college and it takes every fiber of my being not to lecture the local convenience store yahoos about the proper way to run a store every time I step in.

So what can we learn from this?  We (and our staff) need to remember that the customer is the ultimate job creator. And, second, never walk into a 7-Eleven with Steve.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Making the client feel important
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2017, 09:06:19 PM »
Amen and very funny, Steve.