How much responsibility do we bear when we run a media schedule for a sales client? Are we responsible for customer traffic that the ads are expected to generate based on ROI formulas? Or for sales that result from that customer traffic? Since we can't monitor the client's sales floor, how can we persuade a retailer's general manager that, while the ads may be generating foot traffic, an ineffective sales force or perhaps an uninviting shopping environment are costing his business sales? Perhaps there's a way.
Many retailers employ secret shoppers to check up on their staffs performance. As part of your sales program, you can also provide clients with this kind of vital information. For example, you can hire a third party to visit the client, and provide a list of things to look for at the client's business. Or, you can pay a secret shopper of your own to make a purchase at the client's store.
Here are my comments after a secret visit our staff paid to a local pharmacy. It really was not so secret, as the business owner had signed off on it earlier. This step is vital, in order for the owner to respond to your insight. Upon walking into the store, I was greeted by an employee behind the counter in the front of the store. It seemed like she was occupied with another employee, but she casually greeted me. There were six customers in the store, two of whom were waiting at the pharmacy counter when I went to check out. I was on location for approximately 13 minutes. During the first 10 minutes, no one asked me if I needed help. I finally approached a man who was sorting through the shelf where sinus inhalers were located. I asked him about the product, and he seemed very knowledgeable.
After I talked with him, I decided to buy the product. Then, I went to get some bottled water to finish my purchase. The refrigerator where the water was located was poorly stocked, and many items were completely out of stock. There also appeared to be a very short supply of products on some shelves, giving the appearance of low inventory. On the outside of the building, the sign that listed the store's hours of operation was barely noticeable from 20 feet away. You would not be able to see the store hours from the curb. Most of the promotional signage on the windows was facing the inside of the store, except for one sign facing the street. Signage for a 50-percent-off sale on Hallmark products was clearly visible. There was very little smiling or eye contact between the employees and the customers. The cashier did not offer a greeting and, upon handing me my receipt, said,"Have a good afternoon, or good morning, or whatever." I thought this was unusual. The pharmacy staff was busy and looked very professional. The wait for prescriptions seemed short, and nobody seemed irritated. I was taken aback by the cashier's unprofessional style of dress, her shirt was untucked, and her appearance seemed sloppy.
The key to competing with major chains is the warmth and friendliness of the staff, and this didn't come across. The customer-service quotient needs to come up substantially in order to garner repeat customers. What would happen if you included a similar project in the execution process of your radio sales program? It could make a big difference in the measurement tactics, and in keeping that advertiser's schedule on the air. In this case, the message got through to the client, as evidenced by an employee's report on her boss's reaction to my secret-shopper report. Sean's word must be worth something. Boss man is taking it very seriously. I am working on a sign for the store, one of Sean's suggestions. And we have a BIG meeting on Monday at 7:30 a.m. Boy, did Sean stir the pot and make it boil, which, of course, is good.
Improvements are always a must. Remember, you're responsible for your prospects, and your client is responsible for his sales. Sales he can generate if he can keep your listeners coming back into the store!