Tennis Industry magazine


Retailing 137: The Power of ‘Hello’

Successful specialty retailers continue to refine their store’s greeting to make it timely, sincere and helpful.

By Jay Townley

If you are like many specialty tennis retailers, you staff the sales floor and are directly involved with your sales associates in serving shoppers and customers. You lead by example and, whether you do it consciously or not, you are a mentor to your employees.

You surely already know from your experience the power of a well-honed customer greeting. But, you need to constantly review, refine and improve your store’s greeting in both form and content — to stay current with shopper and customer expectations. In today’s consumer-controlled retail marketplace, a simple smile and a cheerful “Hi” within seconds of a shopper entering your brick-and-mortar store may not be enough.

Customer service starts with your greeting and the attitude of both hospitality and assistance it conveys. Millions of shoppers walk past mass-merchant retail greeters every day, ignoring their canned words of welcome because the greeters don’t express real helpfulness and are just there to create the illusion of customer service.

Consumers today want a genuine greeting that is sincere and not canned, but is also not overbearing or imposing. Think about your store greeting as welcoming a guest to your “home” and really paying attention to helping them with their wants and needs.

This means you and your associates need to stop whatever you are doing — unless already engaged with a customer — to greet a new guest entering your store.

The greeting skill set you and your sales associates (both full- and part-time) have to develop and fine tune is:

Greeting within 15 seconds (literally count the seconds to get used to the time frame). This gives shoppers time to transition to your store and engage with you without you being seen as overbearing and an obstacle that makes shopping a chore.

Focus on the shopper. If they are a returning customer that you recognize, personalize your greeting and welcome them back.

If they are a new shopper, literally welcome them to your store! “Welcome to Jay’s Tennis Shop. My name is Jay — how can I be of service to you?”

Immediately give them a face and a name (wearing your name tag will help) and assurance they will receive the help and service they need. It will get them to put down their phone and begin to feel comfortable.

First impressions are important. A shopper may not want or need your help right away, and that’s fine, but they will remember that help was sincerely offered.

You don’t need to stalk shoppers after greeting them, but watch to see if there is an opportunity to offer to help or answer questions. Again, this is a skill that needs to be practiced and refined. Research shows the higher the “intercept rate” (meaning more contact between shopper and staff), the greater the average sale.

Remember, women shop differently than men! Women will seek you out to ask questions and for help; men will avoid contact, even though they may want it. If left on their own, men will seek the product they are interested in, gather as much information as they can read or pick up, and leave as quickly as they can. Research shows that men will visit, seeking information, three times before purchasing. This can work for you if you greet them to start a consultative-advisory relationship that integrates your store into their Path to Purchase and increases your store’s close rates during their visits.

Greeters on busy days! Have a designated greeter to welcome customers within 15 seconds and ask how they can help them or direct them. The greeter should then hand them off to a sales associate or stringer who can best serve them.

Maintaining the power of your specialty tennis retail store’s greeting by continually refining, practicing and updating will enhance your store’s overall selling process and keep your close rates high.

This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (



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