Good Consumer, Bad Business

bad businessA couple of weeks ago I went into a local IHOP to have breakfast in the North Texas area. It has become somewhat of a ritual for me, since I am on my own for a few more weeks.  As I entered the restaurant I was greeted by my usual host and she brought me to a smaller table along the window that sits about three feet away from a few slightly larger tables. The restaurant was busy for a Sunday morning and there were people situated on either side of my table.
The family seated on the right, mid thirties with a newborn, said “Hello” while the couple seated on the left of me seemed very involved in conversation and as I approached the conversation, I  stopped as the lady said “It is getting really busy in here.”  When I sat down and ordered my coffee I noticed that the older lady had now wrapped her arm around her purse and stopped speaking as she struggled to eat her food with one arm.
I thought it was unusual and then I realized what was happening, I was being profiled. There is no disputing that I am a business person Monday through Friday, during those days I am a dress shirt dress pants kinda of guy.  On this Sunday I am wearing shorts, my black Chuck Taylor Converse,black polo shirt and a Movado Sport Watch.  I am tattooed on both of my forearms and am wearing my Cole Haan designer glasses.  I too am a thirty something and consider myself a man of the world. I embrace everything, I tweet, blog, Facebook, use LinkedIn and recently started to dabble in photography.
This lady was so disturbed by my presence that the couple got up an left. The thirty something couple to the left of me had taken notice and laughed.  Oh well, you win some you lose some. Given this situation I decided that I would see if I can determine how many people don’t identify with my value when solely based on how I looked.
I made my way from the IHOP to a mall in Grapevine, Texas. I figured I would check out the latest and greatest Movado selection. Grapevine mills has a fantastic selection of jewelry stores and I figured its a win-win situation.  To spare you the details of every experience I will try to generalize. In the seven stores that I went into, I was not greeted once. In every instance they preferred the tire kicker over the guy who had the buying power and was already wearing a piece of the collection. I was profiled and disqualified based on my appearance. In every instance even if I wanted information on the collection there was no way for me to get it, the businesses did a poor job at communicating and identifying with me and my generation.
Here is my advice take it or leave it.  The days of qualifying a customer to determine their status based on the way they look is over. In the land of free thinking and creativity you need to rethink the way you do business so you don’t become the old lady at the table judging with her eyes. I could have dealt with not talking to a person in each one of those instances, had I been able to find what I was looking for, think about adding QR codes to your marketing and providing access for those of us on the go.
Take a moment to get to know your customers, had the lady answered me when I said hello we would have had a conversation and she probably wouldn’t had felt so uncomfortable. The salesperson or business owner in each location I walked into could have simply greeted me and asked a few questions and they would have made a sale. Had the information I was looking for been readily available or consumable I could have made a decision and engaged a sales person myself.  In either way I am a good consumer and you are conducting bad business.