It was the first day of Debate class during my first year of college, and the teacher was doing that “introductions” thing where you go around the room and everyone says what they do.
Most of my classmates talked about their major – we were all freshmen, and most of them didn’t have jobs outside of school.
And then it was my turn to introduce myself: “Hi, my name’s Yigal. I own a pawn shop.”
It got a little quiet for a minute (awkward!) and then we moved on to the next student.
I didn’t think anything of it… until after class when a guy walked up to me and said, “Hey, Yigal – so you own one of those shops… I’d like to take my girlfriend shopping there.”
I told him that would be great, and I thought they’d really enjoy it because we had so many cool items. I gave him the address and phone number, and then I asked, “So what are you looking for? Are you looking for an engagement ring or something like that?”
He stood there looking confused for a second, and then said, “whoa, wait… don’t you own a porn shop?”
I started laughing and said, “NO, bro – a pawn shop! P-A-W-N!”
When that memory popped up this week, it made me realize just how easy it can be for a small misunderstanding to get out of hand really quickly. A little thing like mishearing the kind of shop I owned had caused this guy (and probably most of my other classmates) to make some assumptions about the kind of work I do… and the kind of person I am.
And it’s super easy to make assumptions in our business, right? Every day we see someone coming in with a family heirloom, or dad’s old guitar, or their wedding ring, and we construct a story about them in our heads.
We can’t help it… we’re human!
One thing we can do is make an intentional effort to get to know our customers, to understand their stories and where they’re coming from, so we can serve them better. After all, the better we serve them, the more they’ll want to come back and do business with us again.
So the next time that guy comes in with dad’s old guitar, try asking him what song his dad loved to play the most. Who knows? You might get an impromptu concert in your shop… and you might just make a friend and customer for life.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your shop’s customers? Hit reply and give me your best strategies! (Or tell me your best “misheard/misunderstanding” story – I know I’m not the only one!)
Always assume the best,