Examples of common ground are similar age, same gender, kids and/or pets, same birth town or schools, careers, favorite sports, music, travel destinations, hobbies, and especially current or past military, police or firefighter service. When your job causes you to put your life on the line it creates a deep and lasting bond with others who have experienced the same.
The cool thing is, when you develop common ground with your customers, the job feels more like a social event, and a lot of the issues disappear. Customers are more understanding when they like and trust the people they do business with.
Can you identify three interests of this customer based on visual observation? (Answer: pets, country music, motorcycles/sidecars/Harleys)
Creating that personal connection is the foundation of a fabulous business that grows your dollars per RO average, increases customer retention and initiates referral business.
If you haven’t put any real attention into establishing common ground in the past, I suggest taking a self-assessment. Simply ask yourself, “What in life matters most to me and what are my favorite personal pastimes?” Next, look for these things in your customers. Clues can be found in what the customer is wearing. For example, camo gear may indicate an interest in hunting, while concert and destination T-shirts indicate music and travel preferences.
If your observation leaves you blank, just ask questions. “Do you live around here? Grow up here? What kind of work do you do? Married, have kids?” The objective is to engage in a little light conversation and make an attempt to know your customers at a more personal level.
The bonus is, the next time they come in and you forget their name, chances are you’ll remember the common interests you have, and that’s where the conversation will start back up. Just like it would with a good friend.