People enjoy being comfortable, and they notice when they're not. Here are two businesses that gain customer gratitude by providing creature comforts:

  • Byerly's, an upscale supermarket chain, based in Edina, Minn., keeps 10 umbrellas by the exit of each of its 11 stores. When it's raining, customers can grab an umbrella emblazoned with the company name, and they return the umbrellas via the drive-through parcel pickup lane. Umbrellas are in hot demand on rainy days -- employees have to keep on top of recovering them from the pickup area. "We do have to replace 30 or more a year," says Art Miller, director of retail operations, "but it's worth it because customers appreciate the service."
  • Claire March, co-owner of Tapestry Tent Designs, in Fort Collins, Colo., travels to nine trade shows a year to sell hand-painted needlepoint products. "The biggest complaint I hear from buyers is that their feet hurt," says March. She invested $225 in an electric foot massager that she puts next to a chair at the front of her booth. "People love it! Buyers remember us from past years and seek us out, especially late in the day." Of course, March makes use of the captive audience. She spends some of the rest time reinforcing relationships with buyers and pointing out items in her display that the customer might not have seen. It's not uncommon for buyers to place an order at the beginning of the day, return in the afternoon for a massage, and place an additional order after they see something new.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing