As a marketing and training guy, one of the first questions I get asked is, “How do I get more customers through my doors?” I always reply with 3 questions:

1. Why are people coming through your doors now?

2. Why are people NOT coming through your doors?

3. If I got them in your door, could you sell them something?

Those questions are extremely telling, as well as difficult for the smoke shop owners to answer, because they’re looking at their business from the inside, not from the customer’s perspective. This is why it can be very important to hire a consultant from time to time, to help you look at your business from the outside rather than from the inside.

The truth is that most smoke shop owners have truly wonderful reasons why people become customers, but usually it is not for the reasons that they think. You can find the answers by asking the question, “what do you do different or better than the jeweler down the street?” If you’re thinking quality or service or value, I’m going to challenge you to dig much, much deeper and ask yourself those.

Sometimes there are deep-seated issues that involve staffing, management, owners and a general dissatisfaction in how the store is being run that can cause customers to NOT want to come through your door. Sometimes employees or managers are angry because new glass hasn’t been ordered in years. These types of issues can all contribute to a poor inside culture, which is a recipe for failure. You can have the greatest marketing plan and ways to bring customers through the door, but if your “house” isn’t in order with a well trained, well disciplined team, then your customers will experience a disconnect from your marketing. The result is that they won’t buy anything at all, or ever again. Then they’ll tell their friends about their experience and the effects will ripple. That can be a hard hole to dig yourself out of, so make sure that you take preventative measures to ensure a healthy store culture.

Great marketing starts from the inside. In fact, the better you are able to do this, the less money you have to spend on advertising because your customers will do most of the work for you! I love it when owners tell me “Jimmy, if you get ’em through the door, they’ll fall in love with us”. This means that their house is in order and they’re ready for more guests. This is when I get excited.

Getting your house in order means that you need to train your staff regularly. This means training on your desired culture, your beliefs, plans and dreams, as well as training on all aspects of the business, from greeting the customer, to dress, to diamonds, to objections, to security. Train them on everything that you want your store to be! You need to discipline your leadership to hold regular daily or weekly meetings. I know it takes time and planning, but it has to happen in order to have a growing business. Great store meetings do wonders for your staff. They build teamwork and increase professionalism and best of all, closing ratios. Talk with the best, most profitable smoke shop owners out there and they’ll tell you they have regular store meetings that encourage teamwork among their staff.

So in a nutshell, great marketing starts right inside your smoke shop with your own individual store culture. Customers should be able to feel it, smell it and taste it when they come inside your store. If you can get this part of your operations right, people will say to themselves immediately when they walk in your door, “I’m buying my grinder here!” And you will have a satisfied customer! SSA

Jimmy Degroot Headshot (BEST)Jimmy DeGroot has been a retail store manager for over a decade and his passions were marketing and training retail sales professionals.  He’s succeeded at both of these by tripling store sales volumes with almost zero turnover in staff and great marketing techniques, He has now taken those passions to across the country with his charismatic influence by offering marketing consulting in stores and video training retailers everywhere. He can be reached at 920-492-1191.