Selling Your Services by Making Them Easier to Buy
Selling Your Services by Making Them Easier to Buy: Part 1
By: Tara Clark
I went into a shop recently to buy some fabric. I hadn’t been to this particular shop in a while and since my last visit it had been renovated. Everything was in a different place to where I was used to. Being a die-hard some sewer, I saw this as an adventure; I would have to rediscover everything and the prospect was exciting. I had nowhere else to be and I had all the time in the world to indulge myself.
I’m five foot six (the average height for a woman of European descent), still young and very fit. While the average customer in this particular shop is perhaps the same height as me, she is not quite as young as me and therefore not nearly as fit. It would seem that I should have the shopper’s advantage.
I set out looking through the rows and rows of fabrics, each bolt stored horizontally, stacked high on shelving that could no longer be seen under the mountains of fabric. I couldn’t see anything. Just the thick, cylindrical cardboard ends of each bolt. The highest shelved bolt was stored so high that I couldn’t reach it, and those beneath were so weighed down by the ones on top that it required taking hold of the ends with both hands and throwing my entire bodyweight in the other direction to slide it out just a few inches in order to view the fabric. After four or five bolts I was panting. four or five more and I’d worked up a sweat. I rolled up my sleeves.
Along comes Mavis. She’s about five foot even. She’s at least seventy. She’s looking for some wadding for the quilt she’s making for her new grandson. We spot said wadding about three quarters of the way to the top of Mount Fabric and I begin climbing. She offers me grandmotherly words of concern for my safety as I balance one foot on the corner of her shopping trolley and the other (shoes removed) on what I think is a bolt of very nice silk velvet and begin yanking with all my might until the bolt of wadding comes free. It’s not quite as thick as she’s after, but she assures me she can double it up, to save me having to climb back up and search for an alternative.
With Mavis on her way I finally find the fabric I’m looking for. By this point I’m spent. I give up on my adventure into the haberdashery aisle and take my bolt to the counter to pay. The line is epic and the fabric bolt is brand new and very heavy, but that’s OK, I need some time to catch my breath. After waiting in line for at least fifteen minutes it’s finally my turn.
“May I have thirty-three metres of this one please?” I ask.
I’m making a friend’s wedding dress. It’s a princess ball gown. The fabric is $14.95 per metre. This is an almost $500 dollar sale.
“Oh”, says the sales assistant, “We don’t cut fabric at this counter.”
I look down at the counter which, marked along the inside edge with metric measurements would lead me to believe otherwise.
“Oh”, says I. “I’ve had fabric cut here before.”
“That must have been before the renovation,” she explains, “You’ll have to go to the cutting counter at the back.”
No apology. No offer that, because there was no signage to inform customers of the change and because she could actually cut the fabric at this particular counter if she wanted to she would do it for me this one last time. I turn on my heels and go in search of the cutting counter, lugging my bolt of fabric. I find it. Another long line with Mavis losing her patience at the front. The counter isn’t manned.
I gently stood the bolt horizontally and leaned it against a nearby shelf, turned around, and walked away.
I wanted to buy fabric. I wanted to spend money with this business. I was ready, willing and able. Having worked in retail for many years I could just imagine the National Sales Manager putting pressure on the State Manager who in turn put pressure on the Regional Managers who came down hard on the Store Manager to explain why, after investing all this money in a new, beautiful renovation, sales were dropping. I could see it in my mind’s eye. And the answer was simple.
You’re not selling, because you’re making it so damn hard for customers to buy!