Customer Appointment Policy

Setting customer appointments for better customer service:
This would allow us to have time to prepare garment samples (order in from Sanmar). Steve could create a WOW t-shirt or patch. Ruthie could do a WOW embroidery sample. The sales rep would have a week to think of ideas to sell them. New garments, promo products etc. We would become the customer’s marketing and idea department instead of the embroidery shop.
Current Problem:
For the past 40 years, we served all customers as walk-ins to our showroom. The customers ranged from a family reunion all the way to big corporate accounts. The issue is our sales staff isn't prepared for the customer when they just "pop" into our showroom. The sales staff then ends up scrambling trying to locate the customer's logo, samples and come up with new ideas and product for the customer, which projects an unorganized company. I think we aren't giving the best customer service when we allow "pop" in customers to the showroom. I feel if we could schedule showroom appointments the sales staff would be prepared with Ideas, Samples, and artwork. This would give a better customer experience. So is setting appointments with customers a bad thing to do? I see more customer service value in appointments than our 40 years of "pop" in customers.
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    1. We are having the same issue, and have been on set store hours for the past 34 years. We have decided to shift to appointment only, but leave the showroom open for walk ins for the next few months through the transition.
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    Comment 1

    1. it's double edged sword. sending people away when they are in front of you is a missed opportunity. but half the time walk ins are tire kickers or time wasters. i have my jr associates work with them, it's good experience.
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    Comment 2

    We are having the same issue, and have been on set store hours for the past 34 years. We have decided to shift to appointment only, but leave the showroom open for walk ins for the next few months through the transition.
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    Comment 3

    As was said before, 99% of the folks that just walk in our door are tire kickers. We give them some of our time, but we usually get their info, find out what they’re trying to do, and send them on their way.
     That being said, we try to schedule our existing clients’ visits. It helps us prepare for their visit and not seem clueless. And most major marketing / promotional companies do the same
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    Comment 4

    I tend to think that our customers treat us the way that we teach them to treat us. I think that you could send out an email to all customers letting them know that in the interest of getting better service you are requesting that they make an appointment to come in. Explain that it's because you want to be able to give them 100% of your attention. Make it a service issue. When people walk in, tell your staff to ask them right away if they have an appointment. Your new potential clients who are dropping in won't know that they should have had an appointment but it won't matter. I would say that if your staff consistently asks about the appointment, within 6 months most of your good customers would get on board. You can train them (customers) to do as you wish. I actually really like this idea.
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    Comment 5

    ALSO: For those customers who do not honor your request to make an appointment; I would obviously never send them away
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    Comment 6

    I encourage appointments and accommodate walk ins. Customers want our expertise. As a bonus on appointments I will meet customers outside of normal business hours on them. Need to meet me on Saturday at 10am? No problem. Tuesday night at 7pm. Yup, can do that too.
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    Comment 7

    I hate pop ins. I try to schedule as much as i can. I decided to shut down our existing showroom of over 25 years. Proud to say i have actually increased business since that risk. Back to your situation i completely agree, but if someone is ready to buy, you have to strike also. I usually let them talk to my assistant. I listen to everything that is going on and enter the convo when i feel its time for them to speak to the doctor. Thats when i strike. It gives me that 5 or 10 mins to formulate my attack. If you saw the setting in which i close deals, you would probably freak as it is right on the production floor. But hey i get the job done, looking to build out office sometime before years end. Wouldnt kill yourself. With trends these days the web is where its at. Less people are willing to actually go out and shop.
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    Comment 9

    I think Ryan hit it on the head with the initial intake option. Can you get some data get on what type of walk-ins you are getting and create a few packages (Brochures Samples) that will each cover a different type of customer event. This way your staff won't have to scramble.
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    Comment 10

    I have been debating the same things. When you're right in the middle of a project and a big client just pops in. Then you lose where you are at on that project. One thing I keep asking myself, how can we make it easier for our clients to do business with us? I used to get so annoyed by clients FB messaging me or texting me. Then I wonder, that's obviously the customer's preferred method of contacting us. That is also something the big guys like 4imprint, customink don't maybe that's an advantage of doing business with a smaller local company?
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    Comment 11

    I can't say I'm doing this but...Theoretically wouldn't the optimal time to set the next appointment be at the end of the last appointment? And the prep could occur on the back end of the last appointment, not just before the next. That way you're waiting for them vs the vice-versa. Pipe dream I know, but something to move towards.

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    Comment 12

    I would setup a bar with pretzels and beer and let Jim entertain them while the sales staff prepared
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    Comment 13

    Great question! I’ve considered the by appointment only... but a large percentage of our clients come to pick up shirts, pay, etc. so not sure locking the door is an option just yet.
     eventually the plan is to set it up so that pickup and payments are handled at the back entrance by our loading dock- but we will have to spend some $ to build this out and make it suitable for customer access etc.
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