I heard a debate on the radio this afternoon about whether leaving a shop door closed puts customers off. Amongst those giving their opinions was an organisation called ‘close the door‘, and there was also mention that keeping doors closed when it is either very cold or very hot is compulsory in New York.
What do you think? Is it a myth with no evidence? Is it company policy? Do you work in a draughty shop?
Well, my personal preference is to avoid waste, whatever the proven impact on global warming. So I respect a shop that keeps doors shut but also understand that the business decision is to pay today’s bills, whatever happens to the climate in 30 years time. With my business hat on the issues are:
- Do more customers come in if you have the door open?
- Is the profit from those extra customers more than the cost of the heating?
How do you get more retail customers?
In short, you need to understand your customers and what they prefer. In this case your role in running the business is to get accurate answers to the two questions above.
- The ideal situation is that people know about you, have decided to buy from you and therefore they will come into the shop. So ‘regulars’ are less likely to find a closed door to be a barrier. The focus is to find out why passers-by would notice your window and what would make them come into an open door. Now we are getting to some quality, focused questions:
- What makes a casual visitor slow down?
- What do I want to say to them?
- What extra difference does the open door make?
- What can I do that will be as powerful as an open door, in encouraging people to come in?
- Could part of my brand be a green or environmental policy and the fact that my shop avoids waste?
Notice that we are making an assumption that shop windows are to attract new customers; service and value keep them.
- To know whether the profit from the extra customers is worth the expenditure on fuel, you need to take careful note of the number of people who come in, at what times, what percentage of those people buy something, how much they spend on average and what your fuel costs are. If you are not measuring this you are only guessing.
Now you can get back to the kind of questions that will help you find the best answer for your shop:
- How can I make those who do come in, more likely to buy something?
- Am I open for the most effective hours? Should I work earlier, later or even reduce my opening hours?
- Can I get a better deal on my heating, either by better equipment or fuel supplier?
- Do the casual customers turn into long-term supporters?
There is no right answer – what works depends on how your customers behave. Your job is to use focused questions to understand what makes your customers behave like the do, and become an expert on customer psychology.
Have fun finding out, and use my enquiry form if you would like me to help in your decision-making.