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June 25, 2018

Small Biz Advice

Make sure your customers feel welcome

Jerry Osteryoung | 6/4/2012

Recently I was looking for some new wood flooring for my townhouse. I really did not know what I needed or the pros and cons of different options (and there are tons of them) and had no idea on the coloring of the wood as well. Trying to be a wise consumer, I went to no less than 5 wood flooring stores. With the construction business being down, I was expecting to get a red carpet rolled out for me with a drum fanfare. However, anything but this occurred. Rather than cheers going up when I arrived I was completely ignored by 3 of the stores and with one store I could not even find one employee to ask a question even though the store was wide open.

Jerry Osteryoung
Jerry Osteryoung
Greeting a customer should just not be something of undue importance. Rather it should be the utmost importance and one that cannot be forgotten for any business. After all a warm greeting by an employee is a significant part of the first impression of every store and every business. If a customer is not greeted when they arrive, the customer assumes, whether it is right or wrong does not matter, that this business just does not need or want to help the customer.

Now I am sure that many employees do not like to greet customers as sometimes customers can be very unfriendly. However, whether the customer is unfriendly, mean, or looking squirly, each and every customer “must” be greeted within 30 seconds of their arrival. A greeting is a way of saying, thank you for coming into our store or business today and we appreciate the opportunity to serve you. I have seen many cases where a salesman goes up to greet a customer that looks very rough only to sell them over $10,000 in products. The point being is that every customer must be greeted as if they are the most important person in the world to the staff member greeting them.

Every business spends so much on advertising and promotion, and to blow it on not having a greeter, just is not a good idea. I recently stopped by a real estate office with a good friend that wanted to buy a new house. We arrived at the office at the correct time, but no one was around at all. Only by hollering at 10db or higher, we were we able to finally pull someone out of their secret hideout to come and help us. We almost walked out of the office, if it was up to me I would of. Regardless, both of us quickly realized that the message that was being sent was that we were not important even though there might be a large commission in the works for the salesperson and agency.

While I could go on and on in terms of the poor greetings that I have personally received and so many people have told me about theirs. The point is that this happens on a regular basis and just cannot be tolerated in any successful business.

Now just telling the staff that you expect to greet a customer is 30 seconds or less in that if you lay out the expectation, then you must inspect to insure that this is happening. Inspecting just cannot be a one time affair but must be continually done to insure that your expectations are being me.

Now go out and make sure that you have a very effective process in place to insure that each customer gets greeted with a smile and warm welcome within 30 seconds of their arrival.

You can do this!

Go to Links Other small business advice columns from Dr. Osteryoung are here. Note: Articles older than 30 days require registration (it's quick and free).

Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses - he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an bestseller. He can be reached by e-mail at

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