It’s such a small thing, but it’s also a huge thing! Let me explain. The past two days, my wife and I went on an overnight to Potomac Mills (a large mall with lots of big stores in the surrounding area—south of D.C.) to finish off our Christmas shopping (which we did accomplish). However, not without keeping our coats on!
D.C. like most of our county has had an unusually cold December and yes, fuel prices are supposed to be up this year—but neither of those are reasons to keep stores freezing! I really couldn’t believe how cold the stores were. And it wasn’t just the mall, several of the outlying stores were downright unbearable. I literally walked into and out of a Chipotle store because it felt warmer outside of the store than inside (and it was freezing outside!). Bed, Bath and Beyond and Michaels were frigid. And several of the stores required gloves while quickly browsing. What I found interesting is that IKEA was one of the warmest stores—and it’s just a big warehouse!!! Maybe they know something that the other stores don’t; that is . . .
When a customer is cold, they leave faster, spend less and don’t return!!!
It seems embarrassing to have to suggest, but most managers of stores/restaurants seem oblivious to this phenomenon! For example, I can’t tell you how often I’m at a restaurant and have to talk to the manager about the temperature. "Excuse me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but everyone in the restaurant is wearing their winter coats and several are shivering, could you please turn up the heat." That conversation should never take place. Managers ought to know that in the winter, customers like to be warm and in the summer, cold. They ought to know that if a customer isn’t comfortable, it doesn’t matter how good the food is or how great the products are, if they’re freezing in the winter or sweating in the summer, they won’t return!
Of course this same principle is true regardless of the arena. If a church is uncomfortable, they won’t return either. A few years ago, this happened to us on an Easter Sunday. The school we rented was in Montgomery County MD where for some ridiculous, anal-retentive, power-controlling reason, the school’s temperature was controlled, not in the school, but down county in a "central location". The problem was, no temperature adjustments could be made at the school. So here it was, Easter Sunday, the biggest Sunday of the year and it was frigid (correct word choice). It was so bad, that new people came and left before the service was over. As they were walking out, several of them said, "The service was wonderful. We’d love to come back but we can’t—this church (meaning the school) is just too cold for us." We lost lots of new people that year who would’ve come back, but didn’t because of a temperature issue. In other words, it had nothing to do with the "product" or "service" we offered, it had everything to do with the temperature. Note: Though in this case, we had no control over it.
The same thing occurs in a learning environment. My kids attend Seneca Valley High School where there are days when they say that no one was listening or learning because the school was either too hot or freezing cold. It can also happen in a workplace where people’s productivity is either enhanced or hindered by temperature. Like I said, it’s a small thing, but it’s a huge thing as well.
As leaders, we often talk about the "temperature" of an organization, but there is another temperature that matters as well—the one you measure on a thermometer. Now, finding two people who agree on the exact same perfect temperature is difficult to do (ask just about any married couple—which is also why there are now dual temperature controls on lots of new cars)—but there is a range that is acceptable. My vote is around 70 (68-72) in the winter and 78 (76-80) in the summer. Going below or above these number by a degree or two (or more) is bad business. Trust me, the incremental cost per customer is minimal, but the loss of future sales (and additional sales on the day in question) is astronomical.
Why would anyone one want to save pennies and lose dollars? My advice, turn up the heat this winter. Why? Because happy customers mean happy merchants and owners. Don’t let the fear of increased fueld prices cause you to lose current and future customers! Remember, today’s solutions create tomorrow’s problems. Personally, I would rather have to solve the increased heating cost problem than the loss of customers problem any day But then again, it’s your choice!
Remember, little things (like temperature) really do matter,