John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Foot Traffic pays off if you have trust
December 5, 2012, 9:19 am
Filed under: Client Services, Customer Experience, Customer Service


No Taking Advantage – A few months ago I was in my favorite store, Apple, spending a great deal of time and money there. As I was on my spending spree, I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I asked the Apple associate where the nearest public restroom was, and she responded, “Actually you can use the restroom at the smoothie place right next door.”  So I ran next door and did so. As I was leaving I saw that they had smoothies and wraps, it was lunchtime, and I was pretty hungry.  After I wrapped up my Apple purchase I came right back to the smoothie place and ordered my lunch and smoothie. As I was eating there, I asked if the owner/operator was available. When he came out to my table, I thanked him for allowing people to use his restroom.  As I said this, his face changed to agitated. He said, “Did Apple tell you that you could use our restroom? Our restrooms are only for our paying customers.”   I said, “But I didn’t even know your business existed until I ran in here to use the bathroom, and as a result I purchased my lunch here.” He responded, “Well, we have been here for nine years.” At that point I was sorry I purchased anything from this location, even though both the smoothie and wrap were pretty good.


Location, location, location – This operator totally doesn’t get it. The entire reason you pay such high rent to be next to an Apple store is for increased awareness, from drive bys to foot traffic. The only thing better than foot traffic outside your store is foot traffic inside your store. I would take it one step further; I would give free smoothies to the Apple associates who tell their customers to use my restrooms.  Drive traffic in my doors!  Businesses need to stop being worried about being taken advantage of and take advantage of opportunities to increase their brand’s awareness and demonstrate their friendliness. 


Easy Money – In 2003, Jeff & Bill Smith (brothers) opened  Easy Money, a payday and 

check cashing financial institution headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.  Now payday loan centers are typically high interest rates serving customers, who may have fallen on hard times, who need cash fast, but are extremely limited in their options. The Smith brothers did something totally unconventional almost from the start.   In each Easy Money location, they put a Coke dispenser in the waiting area so customers could enjoy a free coke while they wait.  This became popular with the customers and popular with the neighborhood.  When asked why they offered free coke, Jeff Smith said, “We wanted to get our name out there in the community, we wanted a way to connect with local people.  We became known as the place that gives away free drinks.” Easy Money would also tell their customers who paid off their loans to stop by, say hello, and have a free coke. 


Give it and People will come – People started coming into Easy Money for a Coke, some times only for Coke, without doing any business.  At first this made the managers concerned they were being taken advantage of. “I would have managers calling me all the time saying, people are asking if they can have more than one. And I would tell the managers to tell them to take as many as they wanted,” said Smith.  “Then a manager would call and say a woman pulled up to the store and her kids ran in and grabbed some cokes and ran out. I would say that is totally okay.  More and more people are becoming aware of us, and we are training them to come in. Don’t worry about how many cokes people are taking. Most people are skeptical about walking into a payday loan center. This humanized Easy Money to the neighborhood.”


Coke VIP – Not everyone in the neighborhood liked it. The local gas stations and convenient stores started to complain that Easy Money was starting to take a dent out of their Coke business.  Easy Money gave away so much Coke, the Smith’s were earning trips that were only for Coke’s top customers. Easy Money gave away approximately 2 million drinks per year free! This nice sentiment became a $400,000 expense on their P&L.  Even I was blown away by this expense.  I asked Jeff if he ever thought about stopping the free Coke’s and adding $400,000 to the bottom line. Jeff said, “No way.  I can’t measure the good will and foot traffic we get, as well as being an integral part of the community.” 


Worth every drop of soda – How did this work out?  Easy Money’s revenues grew on average between 80-100% every single year. They went from 4 employees and two locations to over 250 employees and 21 locations.  The Smith brothers just recently sold Easy Money.  


TDG is hiring a customer service consultant – Because of incredible growth this 2012 (110%) and our consulting business exploding, The DiJulius Group is looking to hire another full time customer service Consultant/Project Manager that would be based out of our home office in Cleveland, Ohio. If you know anyone that may be an ideal fit, please send them this link to the job description: TDG Consultant and have them send their resume to  



 Service customers like your company’s life depends on it.

John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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