Saturday, July 11, 2009

Build Loyalty Through Your POS

For some garden centers a POS system is just a really expensive cash register. That's not a good thing. During a session entitled "POS for Customer Relations," IGC consultant Sid Raisch explained nuances of POS systems and how they can help you connect with your customers.

POS systems are notorious for their finance and inventory control capabilities, but more and more garden centers need to start tapping into its database to learn about their customers and their buying habits.

Referencing a Dale Carnegie principle, Sid said, "The sweetest sound to any person is the sound of their own name." And that's where many of us come up short, missing out on providing that personal connection. Gathering customer names and contact information is crucial when building your POS's database. Right off the bat, make a privacy promise clear to your customers, which states that their information will not be shared with anyone.

Sid noted that this has been a good year for collecting contact information, compared to prior years. "Everyone's looking for deals," he said.

Sid suggests to print out a list of your top 100 customers, the biggest spenders. Make an effort to show your appreciation. Send them a thank you card, make a personal phone call to them, give them first dibs on a new shipment or even sale items.

A POS system also gives you the ability to "systematically lock-in" customers. We'll use Christmas trees as an example (but this can really be applicable to anything). When the trees come in around Thanksgiving, use your POS system to pull up those customers who ordered, say, trees over 9 feet. Make phone calls to let them know the trees came in. This way you've personalized the experience and they won't risk missing out on a tree in the size they're looking for. They're locked into you and locked out of your competitors.

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