December 18, 2006

What I Learned at AutoZone

By Paul Bieber

Even though I wrote winter wasn’t coming to New Hampshire…there was ice on my windshield the other day. I turned on the wipers, and one stuck to the glass tearing the rubber.

I went to a local AutoZone store to get one wiper blade. A young man immedietely came up to me, asked what I needed and walked me over the the correct rack. As I picked up one blade he said, “Sir, if one blade tore, the other is probably weak too, and if you would like the second one, I would be glad to ring it up for you.” This gentleman was either a natural customer service person, or had good training.

The story continues…As we went to the parts counter to put this sale in the computer register, he said, “Sir, since you are buying wiper blades you may need a gallon of windshiled washer fluid. Would you like one gallon? It is on sale for $1.79.”

A $7 sale became a $17 sale, and I thanked the gentleman for helping me. We have all seen this at a restaurant where suddenly the desert cart appears and the chocolate cake get added to the bill.

We don’t do this well in the retial glass business. ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask your cutomer if there is anything else you can do for them. Remind them you do mirrors and skylights, if they came in for auto, and visa-versa. Do you have displays of items you can sell? Look at your stock of supplies and tools, most of them are saleable. Put up a dozen cans of glass cleaner at double what you paid. They’ll sell. Place a dozen glass gloves on the counter with a sign that says, “In addition to helping us with glass, these are the world’s best gloves for handling Rose bushes and all planting.” They’ll sell. Make a little box area for screws, for mirror clips and J-clips.

Put up a display of the different caulkings you have in stock, again double your pricing, and you will sell a couple of tubes a week. It’s found money.

Use your cut-offs to make a couple of dozen 3×5, 4×6, 5×7, 9×11 or other standard size picture frames. A little sign above this precut glass will sell your cutoffs for you, instead of paying to put them in the trash. Lightly seam each one , wrap it in plain newspaper and you have turned junk into sales.

If you are an auto glass shop, sell windshield wipers and washer fluid.

If you are a window company, sell the do-it-yourself-screen-patch kits. Of course you will be twice as expensive as the big box store down the street, but impulse buying has little price pressure. The customer sees it, remembers they need it, and thanks you for having it…at any price!

Impulse buying items should be near your register if possible. All the framed mirrors in your shop should be sparkling clean, with visible price tags. Table tops on display shoud have a sign saying “we can custom make a table top to your exact needs–there is no need to take a standard size that doesn’t fit you home”

Some shops keep a lo-priced bin with scratched or off-size table-tops. Let your customers look through this bin, and a few will turn into a sale. Be sure to putton cork buttons on each top.

Which brings up another sales item. Every homeowner needs clear plastic discs or buttons to level a piece of glass sitting on top of something. There isn’t one household in America, (except Martha Stewart’s), that doesn’t need one button or disc. Your sale is only a nickel, but the customer will remember you as a go-to shop for something unique.

Keep you small display area neat, well lit, near where customers wait while a car is being done, or a screen is being repaired. At the holiday season: “the gift for the home DIY person…their own professional quality glass cutter, just like we use”. Again, just double up on something that you have in stock anyway.

Thanks for reading … USGlass Magazine is the place to go for ideas and trends in our industry.