Gerhard’s blog: reeling in customers

Taking the hands-on approach, Gerhard Jenne hits the streets to drive sales from passers-by. 

With two stores opened in the last six months, I’m not allowed to rest on my laurels. Easter presents a great opportunity for some additional marketing and thus it was that I was “parachuted in” to help promote our products outside our new locations.

This entailed telling our story and talking about our products, letting customers know what makes our cakes so irresistible and, of course, letting them taste their quality right there and then. There is no better way to reel in some additional customers than with some sampling. Not for nothing has Hotel Chocolat always got some tasting samples available. Good bait catches the mice, as the old proverb goes.

I say to our managers, 'If you think you’re doing well with your store, try to do better and see how many more customers you can attract by donning an apron and venturing outside the store to engage in some jolly banter with potential new customers’.

Positioning yourself outside your shop can feel like being on stage, and much like some singers on The Voice have trouble singing unless they also strum a guitar, it helps to have a sample tray of your finest in hand to strike up that first bit of dialogue.

Apart from offering samples, it is handy to have some other form of marketing collateral: a discount voucher that can be redeemed against a future purchase, for example. These are especially handy for those who express an interest, but are perhaps too much in a rush to come and browse at that moment. They are also handy as a “thank you” to those who did go over the threshold and ended up making some purchases.

Furthermore, offering a discount or a “too good to resist” deal is another way to draw customers in.

After overcoming one’s stage fright, engaging with people soon yields a wealth of knowledge and information. I don’t discriminate whom I speak to and look at all passers-by as potential customers. Once they are hooked, I might ask where they come from, whether they are going to work or are visiting the area, and whether they know the brand or any of our other locations, all while gently weaving in some information about our history and the quality of our baking. At this point most people are intrigued and, before they know it, I have lured them into the store where the scents and attractive displays do most of the talking.

I will ask them what kind of cakes they like in order to guide them to something we offer. Those who know Konditor & Cook are usually very happy to share memories of their favorite recipes. I will also ask them where they think we might open our next shop… It’s amazing how much information one can yield in a day!

Even though I had to encounter some pretty blustery weather, making that extra effort generated considerable extra takings. What’s more rewarding than having stopped someone in their tracks who then parts with £50 on cake and Easter goodies?

But it isn’t just those big purchases we salute. We equally value the sale of a £2 gingerbread bunny bought for a child, or the purchase of a chocolate bunny for the girlfriend of a guy who wouldn’t normally walk into a cake shop. The goodwill generated through making new connections is as important as a bulging till at the end of the day.

And off I go to yet another store — the hot cross buns are calling. I hope every bakery and cake shop in London has reasons to celebrate this Easter.

www.konditorandcook.com

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