Apple polishing: Good for business!

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When it comes to retailing, no stores compare to the success of Apple’s stores. “No wonder – look at Apple’s great products,” you say? Certainly having the iPod, iPad and iPhone are an advantage. But there’s a lot more we can take away from Apple’s success.

For the record, Apple posts sales of $5,914 per-store-square-foot, topping stores like Tiffany ($3,070), Coach ($1,776) and Best Buy ($880), according to BusinessNewsDaily senior writer, Ned Smith in “Can Apple’s Polish Rub Off on Other Retailers?” It can if you recognize that good products are only a part of the equation.

In Apples’ case, it’s really all about the customer’s experience. Sure, great products may lead to a great experience but if that was all that was needed, Apple could have easily sat back, open a stand at the mall and let the products sell themselves. But that would not have reflected the late Steve Jobs - no, not even close. As in everything he did, Jobs’ attention to detail was uncompromising. In every Apple store, the total focus is on the customer’s needs.

While both products and consistency of store-to-store detail are two components of Apple’s success, the cornerstone is the employees – they are the key to creating the great Apple customer experience. "They're probably the best employees in the country," Cliff Courtney, executive vice president at Zimmerman Advertising told BusinessNewsDaily. "First and foremost, they hire people who are Apple fanatics. Companies need to see people as a competitive advantage. No matter what someone sells, I can probably buy it somewhere else."

Courtney could just as easily be talking about the boat business. There’s so much parity in boats today, no matter what you sell the customer can likely buy it somewhere else. So how do you separate your dealership from another? It must be in the experience the customers and prospects have in your store with your staff.

It’s widely recognized that Apple hires only people with a passion for, well, Apple! “Passion” – it’s easy to experience, but much more difficult to sustain. That’s because real passion for anything will be lost if that something is allowed to become routine and ordinary.

Keeping up passion for your brands and your dealership should be the daily goal. And, it must begin with the leader. If there’s no passion at the top, it can’t be expected at the bottom. Accordingly, it’s important to recognize and celebrate with everyone all the positives as they happen, each time they happen.

Here are some random ideas:

The whole team can recognize and celebrate: every new employee; every new boat model that arrives; every sale big or small; every delivery by the sales dept; every job completed on time by service dept; every dealership milestone reached; every dealership mention in the newspaper; every new customer; every profitable week or month; every business goal reached; every employee’s birthday or anniversary – well, you get the idea.

As Apple clearly proves, the passion of the employees is the key to a great customer experience in the store. Is it time for a passion plan at your place?

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