Dealing with older customers...'Please talk to me'...

A considerate and caring approach to older customers can be the highlight of their day, says Paul Pleydell.

This may not be what some of your older customers say to you, but it may be what they are thinking and what they need from you.

It sounds pretty harsh, but I think that we can turn loneliness into a sales opportunity, and all feel better as a result.

I think we all know someone who has retired and found they couldn't fill their days, (or at least not without Airfix kits and Countdown), and ended up begging to have their old job back.

After a lifetime filled with family and work commitments, retirement can be a lonely place. You are too old for speed dating or singles night in the frozen food aisle of your local Tesco (or so a friend told me), so where do you go to meet people?

Humans are by nature gregarious. We like being with people. We all want and need to talk to people. But I'm not sure as an industry that we fully recognise this.

For a retired person, the team at your garden centre may be the only people that they speak to that whole day, or even that week.

So take a bit of time to talk to your older customers, even if they are the fifty-seventh that day and even if you have a delivery to unload.

You can make someone's day simply by giving them the time of day, talking to them and making them happy, and happy customers are what we all strive for.

Why not go one step further and set up a club or organise a series of events with the aim of supporting your older customers, after all, they have the time - and often the money too - to spend in your centre.

Members of the SKI club (Spending Kids Inheritance) should be particularly welcomed.

Hopefully one day you can do the same for me!

Paul Pleydell is director and founder at design and business consultancy Pleydell Smithyman.

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