The Stop and Chat, Three Steps for Instant Rapport

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My son worked at a local Jiffy Lube last summer. Jack doesn’t have a sales bone in his body. The idea of talking with customers wasn’t on his radar when he got the job. But there he was, among other assignments, opening driver doors and saying goodbye. I’m sure a lot of your employees have the same challenge.

Wikipedia defines the word rapport this way: “Being ‘in sync’ with or being ‘on the same wavelength’ as the person with whom you are talking.”

When someone is moved up to the advisor position and tasked with doing a service review and selling services, the fear heightens. The first step in any sale starts with building rapport. People like to do business with people they like. Building rapport doesn’t have to be hard. A few simple tricks can get them started. The first tip is to use a big smile to greet customers. Pretend they came in to give you money, (Oh wait, they did!) and light them up with the best you’ve got. Eye contact is critical to building trust along with rapport. Give them a sincere compliment that tells them they are funny, smart, nice, frugal etc. Try a compliment about their use of duct tape or use their name, people love that.

I wish I had this next tip for Jack last summer. It’s called, “The Stop-N-Chat.” I saw it on a T.V. comedy called “The Millers.” Will Arnett appears aloof and distant in the office while JB Smoove is beloved by his co-workers. In this scene, Smoove shares and demonstrates his secret technique:

Smoove: You got to start doing stop-n-chats.

Arnett: What’s a stop-n-chat? What’s it sound like?

Smoove: (Laughs) You stop and chat. Two questions, a joke and you’re out of there. Watch a pro.

Hey, Kevin! Big plans for the weekend?

Kevin: (Laughs) Oh, probably just hang out at home, work on my (imitates record scratching) — deejaying. (imitates record scratching) (Both laugh)

Smoove: You gonna watch the game?

Kevin: Uh, yeah, on my new 65-inch flat-screen.

Smoove: (Whoops) Son, that game gonna watch you, baby! (Both laughing) That’s what I’m saying! Now, that’s how you make friends.

Simple, two quick questions and a laugh, not a full on joke but a shared smile or laugh. Mastering this will build loyal customers and sales. The “Hey-you-and-walk-on-through,” the “sit and fix,” the “walk and wave.”

DAVID PRANGE is currently assistant to the chairman at Next Generation Mfg.  He can be reached at 630.699.6813 or:

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