Wargaming Tradecraft: What Makes a FLGS

What Makes a FLGS

via TheComedyNet.com
Loquacious from World of Wonder has run a series over at House of Paincakes about what makes or breaks a FLGS. The following are my thoughts on the subject matter, and perhaps people here will have some other ideas. I'm leaving links to the original articles so that you can click through and read what other people are talking about on the topics.

I'm a big fan of customer service, something that's lacking in a lot of places that I see... here in Canada, I chalk it up to the fact that it's nearly impossible to get fired and stores rarely make use of their 3 month probationary test period for new hires. But really, when there's so much competition today, with more and more people going online, stores need to become creative and positive about the product they are offering their customers. I'm not just talking about gaming stores, and "product" doesn't refer to strictly physical things - customer service, newsletters, events and other interactions are all a form of "product" that a store needs to be able to offer and give people a reason to stick with them instead of someone else or a faceless online option.



What Makes a FLGS? source


"First and foremost, a friendly atmosphere where you're greeted upon entering - not like a forced Walmart greet, or because they want to sell you something, but a nice hello. 

Staff should be welcoming to new people. If they don't seem familiar with what they're looking at, offer to get them into a simple game. That's how I was hooked - a wide eyed kid and a staff member who grabbed 2 opposing squads and said "This is how it works". 

Women need to feel comfortable. (Big issue for my wife as she won't go back to game stores where full nerdity occurs and she's stared at..) 

Discount is nice, a cheap membership card to make you feel special helps. Like, $10/yr or something just to get access to the cheaper merchandise - you feel invested in the store. (And as owners, if you were going to make your stuff cheaper anyways, why not build that immediate memory jogger "Where do you want to shop? I know, that place we have a membership) Discounts don't have to be much.. just enough to beat the local GW if there is one so you're more likely to shop here. 

Used models - I know, it cuts into profits, but I love'm. 

Knowledgeable staff. (not just people standing behind a counter) 

Friendly staff. (When you ask a question, you get more than 1 or 2 word answers) 

I'm all for staff painting and whatnot while they work - it gives some cool things to look at.. but when a customer comes in, focus should be on service."


What Makes a FLGS Terrible? source

"Number 1 for me is customer service. Let me repeat that - CUSTOMER SERVICE. A game shop in my old town was the worst.. I'd walk in there and be completely ignored.. I'd walk around, grab an item or two, then WAIT at the till.. sometimes for a while. The owner was always busy painting his minis for eBay. I'd complimented him a few times and only received grunts in response. I asked a couple times about their tournaments and it was like pulling teeth. The people there are a clique and not inviting to anyone else. 

So, I stopped shopping there, only poking my nose in every now and then to glance at their used minis.

Hours are another peeve of mine... yes, lots of game stores are run by the owners, and they don't want to work evenings, but lets face it, that's when most people are shopping. noon-9 makes more sense than 9-5. My FLGS is guilty of this, and doesn't even have tables... but they're open until 6 which gives me an hour window to make purchases. They know who I am, they're friendly, they say hello... I'd shop there even if they didn't have a 15-20% discount on everything. 

I don't game in stores, because the only one with tables is the aforementioned one I can't stand, but I've seen a lot of people with problems over rules. If you're going to setup tables for strangers to game, you need an adjudicator.

The trickiest one for me is I need a game shop my wife feels comfortable in. We've walked into places where we're hit with a wall of nerd-stench and every eye is on us until we leave. But how does a store take care of the "problem" of it's customers. You can boot people acting rudely, but you can't really boot the socially awkward. That's kind of who we are as we play with our little men. AC goes a long way, but can be costly. A gaming store in a city over made a point of hiring female staff and they didn't treat them like eye candy, they were just regular staff, as they should be treated. This fostered a good atmosphere. Perhaps in my example of all eyes on us, if the employee recognized how customers reacted to "invaders" and approached us to offer a hand, the other customers would have gone back about their business."

Baby I've Been Burned Before (retrospective) source

"I didn't turn my back immediately on the game store in question, but after a few visits, it quickly became apparent I was done with them. 

Regarding positive vs negative feedback - it's an unfortunate reality for ALL businesses out there. When's the last time anyone wrote a business to tell them how impressed you were with their service? Probably never for most people. The other unfortunate thing is that most people won't complain about something they deem negative, so how is a store supposed to address these concerns. A somewhat dated idea would be a suggestion box, but maybe that's not a bad idea. Maybe even a complaints/suggestions email on the website. 

I recognize this as a personal flaw - because believe you me, when I'm upset with a company, they hear about it. But I don't write companies to say thanks. That said, companies don't usually have a "thank you" email. Maybe that's what things like Twitter and Facebook are now allowing - the positive feedback."

These were my thoughts on the matter, now lets hear what you think...

4 comments:

  1. thanks so much for your thoughts. I appreciate them and hope to have a "rebuttal/response" in a couple weeks.

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  2. I'm a little bitter about the subject because I didn't have any local places to game. It's part of why I wanted to share it here. That, and it also gave me my idea for tomorrows Blog-Fu post.

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  3. "Women need to feel comfortable."

    So true. My missus will never go into any store ever with me because of this. I can't say I blame her.

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  4. Yep, we've had some pretty creepy experiences. She's a unicorn and likes going into game stores and as an otaku is used to "con funk", but creepy people will affect the amount of time we spend in a game store and whether we'll come back.

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