Mindful Practices: Conscious Living Retail Business
Mindfulness is a practice. It requires paying attention in the present moment and being focused on the task in front of you while being aware of what’s going on around you. This is known as situational awareness. You are being an observer of yourself and your surroundings. Applying and integrating mindfulness behavior into your life takes conscious repetition until proficiency is achieved.
Mindfulness in your personal life requires focus and grounding to keep all your awareness on a specific task. Consider mindful walking, for instance: When you walk, place all your thoughts on the process of walking. How does it feel to put your feet on the earth? Do you feel the air swirling around you and the sun (or the rain) touching you? And when you eat, place your awareness on chewing, the flavor, and digestion of food for nutrition and well-being. Being mindful of these ordinary daily tasks is conscious living.
When doing business, conscious living practices are implemented for the highest good of the customers as well as for the staff and the bottom line of the business. Awakening consciousness within your business practices requires objective observation. This means that you are able to describe and identify exactly what is happening as events are happening without making judgments. In other words, being an objective observer requires neutral or impartial perception. For example, if it rains, the unbiased, or objective, view is, “It’s raining,” whereas the subjective perception is, “It’s bad weather.”
The practice of objective observation applies to everyone involved in the business—from the owner and managers to the staff and the customer. (Yes, customers are participating in this practice, often unknowingly.)
I recently made a business decision to include the tagline “Conscious Living Store” with the name of my store. The majority of the books, gemstones, jewelry, and other products offered at The Crystal Garden are intended to awaken the consciousness of the person who is enjoying the treasures on our shelves and perhaps taking them home. Everyone plays a part in awakening awareness for themselves and others, and I find that this is especially evident at The Crystal Garden. Though you may not have the same tagline for your business, instituting some mindful practices can benefit your staff and customers, and improve your business. All that’s necessary is consciously enhancing the daily routine at your store. Here are 10 practices to consider implementing:
Greeting Customers at the Door
When a customer comes through your door, I recommend giving them a warm reception. Try out simply saying, “Welcome!” Acknowledging the customer with mindful attention is the first step of the greeting; engagement is the second step. Ask the customer if they have been to the store before and, if not, how they found out about your store. This is beneficial not only for authentically connecting with a new customer, but also provides you with marketing insights. Most customers are happy to engage and help.
The most common response will usually be that they did a Google search. Ask what keywords they searched, and you’ll have a better understanding of your business’s demographics. Word of mouth is also a common response. Or maybe they saw an advertisement. In that case, if you advertise in more than one place, ask them where they saw the ad. Consider keeping a log with the various ways customers find out about your store to refer to when you are planning your marketing next quarter. Let your new customer know you appreciate the insight they offered with a statement such as “That’s so nice to know. Thank you!”
When you personally interact with your customers, you and your store will stand out among the crowd of businesses as a caring boutique shop. So, take a moment to describe your store’s layout. Let them know where they will find the various “departments” within your shop. At The Crystal Garden, we have rooms and specific areas to find jewelry, aromatherapy, personal-care products, wall hangings, CDs (yes, we still carry them), greeting cards, incense, sage, candles, books, statuary, and so much more.
Ask the Customer if They Need Attention or Have a Question
Once your customer has been browsing the store for a while, ask them if they need any attention or have a question. I enjoy using the phrase, “Do you need any attention?” because it often brings a smile and a fun reply, which opens the opportunity for engagement and a chuckle. After asking this question, pause and stay nearby. It is interesting to observe that often the immediate response is no or “I’m just looking.” Move a few things on the shelves or dust to stay around for a few moments. You will often find that the same people who said they didn’t need attention actually do have questions and want attention. Be mindful enough to ask, and be mindful enough to give them space to contemplate and realize that they do have questions. Sometimes they don’t, so be mindful of that too.
Remembering and Cultivating Repeat Customers
It is always endearing to enter a store and have a friendly staff member greet you by name. There is a deeper connection with a store when it’s less of an “in-your-face” retail store and more of a place where you feel known and familiar. In a study published in Brain Research magazine, certain parts of our brain light up when we hear our own name. Almost everyone wants to be known.
If you don’t remember a customer’s name, perhaps another person on the staff will remember. One of my staff members asks repeat customers she recognizes for their name by asking directly and kindly, “Remind me of your name, please.” This lets the customer know she cares about them enough to want to use their name.
Mindful practice is to be present when you hear the customer’s name and make the intention to remember it. Use the customer’s name while talking to them without overusing it, which can be perceived as insincere. Eventually, when you mindfully take note of your customers’ names and use them in a sincere and natural way, you and your staff will remember many of them. Aside from making your customers feel welcome and valued, this helps build customer loyalty.
Remembering people’s names can be a bit of a challenge for most people. Benjamin Levy, the author of Remember Every Name Every Time, provides the F.A.C.E technique to aid in the process of memorizing and connecting with a customer and their name. According the Levy, here are the tools:
F is for Focus. Mindfulness training includes being in the present moment and focusing on the customer. Release extraneous thoughts, and be present with the customer. The first 20 seconds of learning their name is the only task you have to focus on. Give them that 20 seconds by being totally present.
A is for Ask. Repeat the customer’s name and ask them if you have it right. Inquire about the proper spelling. This is imperative in my store because we put all our customers into our point-of-sale system to set up their account and frequent buyer program (Crystal Points), which you’ll read more about later.
C is for Comment. Bring something to mind that you can correlate with their name and comment on it. Perhaps their name reminds you of a relative or a song. Make a decision that you will end your conversation with that customer by saying “thank you” along with their name. This will trigger your mind to remember it for the gratitude part of your encounter.
E is for Employ. Use their name during your conversation. This reinforces your memory and enforces your connection with that person. These customers of ours are human beings. For some, their interaction with us might be the only pleasant or kind experience they have that particular day. Mindfulness and kindness go hand in hand.
The Last Conversation
As your relationships with certain customers grow and develop, be thoughtful and fully present with them when they visit your store. Being present means that it’s time to put down that merchandising chore, clear your mind of extraneous thoughts, and spend time with these customers. Ask about their family or pick up on your last conversation.
This practice is one of compassion, mindfulness, and caring. Remembering and maintaining a connection with people cultivates community and loyalty. The key is to recognize how much time is appropriate and maintain awareness of how many other customers are in the shop at that time. Keep in mind that situational awareness is key in all aspects of store interactions. Remember, as mentioned earlier, situational awareness is your ability to perceive your environment and all that is happening around you while still being present in the activity you are currently focused on.
Everything is Energy
A basic principle of life is that everything is energy. Thoughts, feelings, and even inanimate objects hold a vibration. Everything has a vibration. This vibration travels like a sound wave and comes back around because of the circular flow of all things here on this planet. The foundation of the expression “What goes around comes around” is based on this principle. This basic principle is a very important facet of mindfulness at work. The basic understanding of the laws of cause and effect applies to every aspect of life. Therefore, the intention and vibration are carried in every object on your store’s shelves.
Put a practice into place that everything you do within your business is done with the overlying and underlying intention of love and well-being. Every box of merchandise you open, every piece of merchandise you handle, handle with mindfulness and attention on love and well-being. When you and your staff merchandize and arrange displays – even dusting – do it with the mindfulness of love and well-being as the core intention.
Use this same practice while creating posts on your online store or putting a new product in your webstore. It’s energy. Where your attention and intention is placed, the energy flows. Your customers will feel the difference, and they will want to buy your merchandise because it is not only priced right and looks good, but it feels good, too!
This practice of energy awareness and mindfulness is a perfect tool for personal self-awareness and development that goes beyond the walls of your store or online presence. Practice mindfulness while preparing food, cleaning your home, driving, and going on about your day.
Further practice to instill well-being into your store starts with the moment you arrive on the premises. After settling in and doing the basics to prepare the store for opening, establish a practice. Put out a petition for the day, pray, and call in positive energy. The practice of calling in the guides, guardians, and angels of your store makes a significant difference in the flow and sales for the day. I know this is true from personal experience.
As a store owner, you can do this from afar if you are off premises. Using your imagination, visualize your store in a bubble of light and well-being. Place your intentions into that bubble of light for projected sales, harmonious customer interactions, safety of the store, and excellent staff participation and productivity. Make an intention that your store feels positive and nurturing so that shopping becomes an experience of well-being. (You can use this practice if you are on-site, too, of course.)
Depending on your spiritual outlook, create your own ritual or opening ceremony to establish your intentions. Train your staff to do the same so they have a good and happy day serving your customers.
Establishing your financial intentions at the start of the day is also beneficial. In my store, if we “make the day,” I provide a $5 commission in the paycheck of each staff member who worked that day. To make the day, the end of day sales need to be 15% over last year’s sales on the same date. The dollar amount needed to reach that goal is pasted inconspicuously on the cash register. By engaging in this practice, both my staff and I are establishing a mindful intention to meet the day’s predetermined goal. Staff members enjoy an extra challenge and the small commission. It is worth it for the financial well-being of your business.
Thank You Goes a Long Way
Gratitude is powerful. Authentic gratitude is even more profound. Yes, it is important to thank the customer for their purchases, but taking the thankyou deeper is even better. Consciously thanking the customer for their purchase while feeling true gratitude energetically strengthens the connection between you and that customer.
As established earlier, everything is energy. It’s easy to say thank you. It takes a bit more focus and emotional awareness to establish a vibration of gratitude that travels with the customer and their purchase after they leave the store. Also, it is beneficial to feel gratitude for customers who didn’t buy anything or just came in to pass time. Help them feel welcome and refrain from trying to sell to them. Most will come back when they have the time and the money. Some customers just browse before coming back to make a purchase.
Try on a few more ways to say thank you. Use phrases like, “We really appreciate your business” and “Thanks, we are grateful for your purchases.” It’s always nice to invite customers to come back soon. Encouraging a return with words are great but add another layer to your gratitude with a frequent buyer program. Read on.
Frequent Buyer Program
A rewards program is a way of thanking your customer and “putting money where your mouth is.” A rewards program, or a frequent buyer program, is also a marketing tool based on the principle of reciprocity. The energy of doing something or giving something to someone psychologically establishes a feeling of wanting to give something back when something is received. It is used as a marketing tool in the acquisition of new customers as well as the cultivation of relationships with existing customers in-store and online.
Customer loyalty deserves a reward. Loyalty shows a customer’s willingness to buy from your store or your brand again and again. This is a result of customer satisfaction based on value of the product and satisfaction with the customer service and the feeling they experience from dealing with you, your staff, and your store, whether online or in person. This allegiance converts to your customers spending more at your store and offering word-of-mouth referrals. They will tell their friends and family how much they enjoy you and your products.
Most likely, your point of sale (POS) program or online shopping cart plugin has this function so the systems keeps track and issues a certificate when the customer’s sales reach a certain level. If your POS program doesn’t offer this function, a punch card might do the trick for brick-and-mortar sales.
At my store, we offer $10 off the next purchase after a customer has spent $100. My POS (BookLog) tracks customer sales, automatically issues the certificate, and keeps the information in the customer’s file so the customer doesn’t have to keep track of a piece of paper. Effectively, this is 10% off after they’ve already spent the money. They must wait to use the reward, which I refer to as a “thank-you gift from us” on their return visit on another day. Only one $10 gift certificate can be used per visit.
There are many ways to create rewards programs. With a little research, you will find the one that best fits your store and finances.
Free Gift Wrap
Would you like to stand out in the sea of many shops? Free gift wrap is a great gift to the customer. Many customers will purchase gifts at your store because they know it will be ready to give when they leave the store. Practice mindfulness while wrapping, sending good vibes into the product and the wrap. To capture a marketing and publicity opportunity, place your logo with contact info on a label affixed to the box and/or wrap. The rolls of paper, rolls of labels, bows, and your time are well worth it to upgrade your store with this service.
Offer Free Events
While we are talking about reciprocity and gifting, consider offering a free event in your store. This sets up reciprocity for your customers’ patronage. The event can offer insights, training, or understanding of a product, books, and goods you offer. Depending on the genre or your store, create a reason to bring your community together on premises and online.
One of many ideas is to offer a half-hour free class and broadcast it on your Facebook page as a Facebook Live Event. By doing this, your event continues to be available long after the event is over. Save the video and upload it to your YouTube channel to broaden the scope of your audience. This can drive customers into your store and onto your website. They will be grateful for the information, your time, and your energy, and the law of reciprocity will naturally evolve.
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As you continue to practice mindfulness and implement conscious-living activities into your store, you will discover what works best for you, your staff, and your business. The key takeaway here is that it does take practice. When approaching your intention to establish mindful behavior in your life, stay conscious of this key takeaway—and practice, practice, practice. Every day in every way you will improve your ability to be in the present moment. Apply and integrate mindfulness into your life and business, and you will improve your life and the lives of those around you. Your business, your reputation, and your financial bottom line will improve as well. Stand out and shine.