Hospitality in the Retail Sector

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I went to a new day spa last week. I really enjoyed my experience there. Part of the reason that I did was their hospitality. Of course, that is supposed to be part of the experience at a day spa. You pay for a period of hospitality and pampering, although some are better than others. I have visited other day spas that were also very hospitable and some that were not. I doubt the ones that were not stayed in business very long since hospitality is part of the business model for day spas.

During and after my visit there, I started thinking about business today and how inhospitable most retail business is to customers. I don’t shop much in brick and mortar stores, preferring to do most of my shopping online. But when I do shop in the brick and mortar stores, it always strikes me how retail stores could do so much better from a profit perspective if they were only hospitable to their customers.

The sales staff in large retail stores certainly never make a move to help the people shopping in their stores. That attitude trickles down to even the smaller, boutique retail shops. Although the smaller shops occasionally help their customers, particularly if asked, I would not call them hospitable. In most stores today, sales staff seems almost non-existent and the staff that does exist seem to prefer to stand around talking to each other instead of helping customers. I’ve even had sales staff tell me that the product I’m looking for is available online but not in their stores, so I would be better served by shopping in their online store.

When I hear that vocalized, I always wonder why there is even a brick and mortar store there? If they don’t have their own products nor the sale staff that wants to sell them, why don’t they move to 100% online? They would save so much money.

I call the current attitude of many retail stores the “Wal-mart Mentality.” Anyone who has read much of what I write knows my issues with Wal-mart. Wal-mart may have provided a low-cost way to shop but trying to find assistance if you are shopping there is impossible. There are not hospitable. It seems that, since Wal-mart came to communities, other retail outlets have adopted their business model of not helping or caring about their customers.

I’m left wondering how much more profit retail businesses would make if they would be more hospitable and helpful to their customers. If they trained their sales staff in courtesy and hospitality, I would guess they would see their profit margins rise.

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