Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Customer perceptions

It's so important that customers leave the shop with an excellent impression.  I rely on word of mouth a LOT so I don't want anyone to leave even a teensy bit disappointed.

On Sundays at the moment the lights are on, the music's playing but the door is locked with a sign asking customers to ring the bell for assistance.  I employ staff to work in the shop on a Sunday from Easter - December, but at this time of year it's just too quiet to make it viable to pay anyone. 

As I am always in the shop on a Saturday, by operating this way I get to spend time with my daughters on a Sunday and, so long as we don't leave the house, I can hear the bell and dash down the stairs to help any customers that may visit. 

This Sunday I was helping my youngest daughter to make this tin can robot with a kit she received for Christmas - lots of fun!

The bell rang and I quickly popped down to unlock the door for two ladies.  When I arrived they were reading the sign on the door which says that the shop will be closed this coming weekend as I'll be away at a trade fair - again, I can't afford to pay for staff just now. 

One lady commented, "You're always closed," before turning to speak to her friend.  I wanted to ask what she meant and had she been inconvenienced previously, but I missed the opportunity.  I had geared myself up to ask her when she came to the counter, but they left without buying anything and I missed my chance.

She didn't say it in an unpleasant way, it was more of a passing comment.  I wonder whether she'd called in when I was redecorating and found the place closed.  It has been on my mind ever since, largely because I'm worried that she sees the shop as being closed often and may be telling her friends the same.  In reality, the shop is open 6 days a week, all year - the only exception is a few days in Jan & two days in Feb.

My own perceptions of another shop were changed last week.  I won't name the shop, suffice to say it's one of my favourites - piled high with interesting things - lots to see and fun to explore every nook and cranny.  I was really enjoying a good rake through everything when the owner started telling her staff off quite loudly.  I could hear every word and it made me feel very uncomfortable.  It won't stop me returning, but it has affected my impression of the owner.  Fair enough to tell your staff if they're doing something wrong, but there are ways and means!

OK, that's too much writing and not enough photos, so here are some I took this morning on a frosty walk around Johnshaven.

The old railway line

Looking south to The Narrows & Seagreens


  1. I just "liked" your facebook page and "followed" your blog today for the first time, I regularly stay at my parents caravan with my young daughter in Miltonhaven during the summer and visited the shop for the first time last year with my uncle and his wife. We didn't meet as you had someone working and I think it was a Sunday but we left with wonderful purchases of two paintings for my uncle and his wife and I bought several of the driftwood and slate with green glass wall hangings which I believe are made by a local Johnshaven artist. I love your wee shop but personally I would always check ahead to see when you were open as apart from a nice wee walk round about there would be little that would normally encourage me to stop off at Johnshaven. The customers comments - whilst discouraging to you - I don't think would have been made in malice but merely a bit ignorant and classic example of speaking before thinking, I recall that your opening times are visible to see and anyone online or on the phone just needs to do a quick search or pick up the phone to see when you are going to be open.

    Please do not be dis heartened you have a wonderful shop up there and I am looking forward to visiting again in April.

    Anne Marie

    PS I had a similar experiance in a well known restaurant chain where a manager was overheard discussing "up selling" desserts to customers as "they were going off soon" needless to say it has put me of not necesarily to go back but I won't be buying any dessert!

  2. Hi Anne Marie

    Thanks for your lovely kind words about my shop :)

    Hopefully there will be another reason to visit Johnshaven within the next year or so as a group of us are working towards setting up a community cafe - perfect after a walk from Miltonhaven!

    Your story about the desserts is a bit off putting to say the least!

    Be sure to introduce yourself next time you're in Starfish.



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