Small businesses have always been a gathering place for members of the community. Neighborhood residents look at your business like a community gathering place, whether it be in hair salons, pubs, hardware stores or coffee house, they trust you to welcome them and their neighbors. Building a relationship like this should be the goal of every business.
If your business sells food, you already have an advantage, this gives them a reason to always visit your store. You see coffee shops try to build this feeling of community by offering customers a dedicated coffee mug that they can keep there. Community markets and grocery stores also offer customers a sense of community when they offer to special order certain foods or items. If you have resources that people want and need, create a place where they feel welcome.
For stores that offer niche services, you know that your customers are looking to come to you as the need arises. A way to create a community for customers that aren’t regulars but consider you a trusted source is to promote in-store events. Pet stores often offer puppy training classes or informational sessions about ways to take care of exotic pets. Your store’s customers represent a community of people who are all interested in one thing, to feel welcome in your store.
Here are some other ideas for how retail stores can create ways to build trust with customers.
- Craft stores offer knitting and sewing lessons.
- Comic book/hobby stores host card and roleplay games.
- Home improvement and hardware stores teach basic home repair classes to fix problems around the house.
Professional service providers like doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, can also find ways to build a loyal audience. Offering a newsletter or building a digital resource for customers can be a way for you to offer general advice and allow people a chance to ask questions. Although the identities of customers would be confidential, the questions they ask would probably be fairly common. By giving advice, based on questions you receive, you show a willingness and desire to help your clients.
The people in your community should be your desired customers. These are the shoppers that are going to help (or have helped) your business become a local institution. Never stop reaching out to your audience, and always create an environment where people feel they can chat with a friend while they shop.