Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor

Now I know that all the sales and marketing people, and even managers and owners will say of course.  Yes, you all have a target market that you sell to.  But I submit that while that may be your major market, sometimes the difference between profit and loss is that unidentified peripheral market.

T20110613-092426-300x300he car dealer knows who is likely to buy that high end corvette.  Then why is that 60 year old looking to buy the one on the show room floor?

What is that 18 year old couple doing in my fine dining restaurant?  Can they even pay the $40 + average check?

Why is that 12 year old buying a plumbers wrench in my hardware store?

Hotels have a target market too,  but it seldom includes local residents.

An excerpt from “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” can be applied to any business.

“Look around you.  Anyone and everyone can be a past, present, or future guest in your hotel. They are all colors, sizes, shapes, vocations, and speak various languages.  They come from all over the place, including their houses down the street from the hotel.  Now it is easy to see why a person away from his hometown would stay in some kind of hotel.  But, why would the person who lives a few blocks away do it?  I have heard all kinds of reasons from, “Our house is being painted,” to “It burned down,” to “We have company that we can’t stand.”  The one that I never heard, but know it is one of the reasons is, “This is my mistress, and my wife frowns on my taking her to our house.”  [smile here]

My point is this:  sometimes we get so focused on our primary markets that when a customer shows up that doesn’t fit our profile he/she doesn’t get the best in service.  No one takes that 60 year old man serious.  He is probably just killing time while his Chevy is being serviced.  That 18 year old couple gets very minimal attention from the waiter.  They probably won’t tip anyway.

Businesses must treat all customers as if they are the salt of the earth and much appreciated.  I once went into a lady’s shoe store.  Now men seldom buy women shoes because women have distinctive tastes and need to try the shoes on for fit.  So, I was largely ignored.  Finally a bored clerk asked, “What do you want?”  I was there to look at purses for my wife, but decided to go elsewhere.

How does your business treat potential customers that don’t fit your profile?  Is our market profile sometimes too restrictive?


Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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