Stores find that kids can be scarier than a bull in a china shop
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail Doctor’s blog.
It’s tough to take small children into new places and expect them to behave like adults when they naturally want to explore. But it is also tough for retailers to deal with parents who have no boundaries for their children’s curiosity. A run-amok kid ruins everyone’s day.
I polled my Facebook followers to ask for their tips about dealing with kids in their stores. On one side, a few retailers offered stories, which to me didn’t build bonds but drew battle lines.
One owner of a tiny shop told a woman spanking her child one recent weekend, “I’m sorry to ask this, but perhaps you can return at a time when the kids are having a better day.”
This retailer has zero tolerance and feels parents should know better, that her shop is a place of business, not a daycare center. And let’s be honest, some parents use a retail store as a place to park the kids while they do other shopping or have services performed.
How, then, should you deal with kids who could disrupt your business?
- Engage. When you greet every shopper with an open heart and try to make a connection with not only the parents but the kids, you proactively keep the child from being bored as most of the items in your store aren’t going to appeal to them.
- Ask the parent’s permission. Before giving a gift to a child, always ask the parent for permission so they see you as an ally.
- Give the child a distraction. While picture books, coloring books or toys are good, bubble wrap might just be the most fun and free distraction you can give any kid. Plus, kids can be entertained with bubble wrap on their own.
The key is in planning ahead for how to deal with children. One Facebook responder said it best: “If we don’t want families shopping online from the safety of their homes to avoid stink eyes and such, then we better figure out how to embrace all our customers.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice do you have for managing kids in a store environment? What techniques used by associates and managers to suppress or minimize such situations are fairly common, yet inappropriate?