NEVER Prejudge a Customer!

running shoeThe story you’re about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I think most of us learn this lesson the hard way, but maybe today we can save you from yourself.

Mary is very overweight.  But she’s working hard to get into shape.  In fact, she’s training for a 5K run.  The other day she went into a large sporting goods store, not necessarily a big box, but at least a medium box.  She was looking for a pair of running shoes.

I won’t call this guy a “salesman” so I guess we’ll refer to him as a SDRG (shoe department retail guy).  Anyway, the SDRG approaches Mary and asks if he can help her.  (Not the best way to approach a customer, but in this case it’s the high point of the conversation.)

Mary answers that she’s looking for some shoes.  SDRG answers, “Mam, these are running shoes.”

Mary answered, “Yes, I know.”

SDRG, “No ma’am, these are RUNNING shoes.”   In other words, “Lady, the buffet line shoes are over there.”  The meaning wasn’t lost on Mary.

She answered, “I know these are running shoes.  I’m training for a 5K run and I’d like to buy some shoes.  In fact, I will buy some shoes, but not from this store.”

She went on to explain what SDRG could do with his shoes.  Since this is a family blog, I’ll leave it to your imagination.

The point is, you can NEVER prejudge a customer.  Appearances can be deceiving and relying on something so notoriously fallible as a first impression can lead to a lost sale or worse.

Mary told this story to my wife who works for a weight loss company.  I know she plans to repeat Mary’s story to all of her meetings this week and I doubt that she’ll disguise the name of the store.  By the end of the week the story will have gone viral in the community.  There’s no telling how much damage will be done to the store’s reputation because one employee decided that a well-fed lady couldn’t possibly be interested in running shoes.

4 Responses

  1. So true!
    Many years ago when I first moved to Toronto, I decided to buy some new clothes for the new job I would soon find. I was still getting used to the cold weather, so I bundled up in a down jacket, cords and salt-stained boots to go shopping on Bloor Street, which houses some pretty nice stores. In most of the shops I was completely ignored because I didn’t dress the part of a Bloor St. shopper. Later in the day I wandered into an establishment that treated me like a genuine customer. I ended up buying two suits, a dressy coat, hat, many blouses, etc., from that store.

  2. Donna,

    Great comment! I think a lot of us have had experiences like that. My wife and I were in Chico’s over the weekend and were completely ignored. I think it was probably because she was with me. They must have thought she had no taste.

  3. I went to a very nice men,s store in Memphis some time back. I was off early that day and went in old work cloths just to look around. There were three sales men around that totally ignored me, after about 10 min’s I was getting ready to leave, when a sale’s woman came out of the backroom, as soon as she saw me, she straight to me. We spent an hour talking about suits and shirts, ties and every thing. I told her I was just looking and would come back another day. Two days later I was back in wearing a suit, the same three guys along with one more was there, they all rushed to my looking for the sale. I ask for the girl that had spent time with me before, they said she was working the backroom and could not come out, I ask for the manger’s, one of them told me he was the manger, so I ask how to get in touch with the store owner or district mgr. His tone changed and he said he would see if she could stop and come out, she did right away, two hours later I left with two suit’s and everything to go with them. I told her what had been said about how she could not come out to the floor, she told me they were all mad at her for being the top seller in the store. The next morning I went in and talked to the owner about how great she was, but how poorly the guys had acted! He let two of the four guys go that day! Over the years I have been friends with the girl and sent many good friends to her where ever she worked!


  4. Dwayne,

    Great comment! My only disagreement is that I wouldn’t call those guys “salesman”.

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