Friday, March 4, 2016

The Successful Cigar Lounge (Employee edition)

Jorge Padron [source
"...the focus should be on quality, not quantity.  By this I mean that it is not necessarily the biggest store or walk-in humidor that makes a tobacconist great, [sic] it is the quality of the employees that make the difference. Tobacconists that understand their customers' needs and preferences, and who pair that with the perfect product for that particular smoker, are successful at what they do." 

--Jorge Padron, from the Foreword in The Tabacconist Handbook

We've been thinking a lot about cigar lounges lately: What makes one successful and another not-so-much.

In a completely unscientific and totally slipshod experiment, using the word "experiment" so loose it's probably turning tricks on a shitty city street corner, we've made a few notes about what works and what doesn't in a cigar lounge (as it relates to humidor/cigar sales only).

These brain musings focus on the sales clerk/staff only (in no particular order). We'll take on the other aspects another day.

The Good Clerk

  • Wants to know what you currently smoke.
  • Offers recommendations through conversation rather than hard-selling a specific cigar.
  • Remains in the vicinity for quick assistance but no so close you feel you need to buy him/her a drink. 
  • Understands at least the basic cigar terminology and doesn't look like a confused cheerleader when you ask for a lancero.
  • Shares info about the shop if you're new, including regular events and upcoming special events.
The Not-so-good Clerk

  • Know everything about everything and anything you say is wrong. 
  • Holds the world championship title in oneupsmanship.
  • Follows you so closely that onlookers mistake you for newlyweds.
  • Makes you look up a price in the humidor. 
  • Is constantly surprised by the stock.
  • Is too busy talking to other patrons to acknowledge your presence. (This is cousin to the clerk who stays on the phone without even making eye contact.) 
  • Obviously works on commission or needs to meet a sales quota because you aren't getting past him unless you hand over your wallet or at least your AmEx. 
The Head-banging-on-counter/why-does-this-person-have-a-job? Clerk

  • Doesn't greet you when you walk into the shop.
  • Consistently mispronounces company/brand names--Olivia cigars, anyone?
  • Goes missing when you need to pay. 
  • Doesn't listen.
  • Says "I just work here." 
  • Tells you to give him a flat amount of cash where he's sitting rather than ringing you up. You don't need a receipt, right?
  • Obviously steals from the owner. (Do you tell the owner? This is a post for another day.)
You've surely seen most, if not all, of these scenarios at one point or another.  Join us in applauding the Good Clerk. Thank the guy or gal personally. Then go one step further and tell the shop owner or manager about the great service.

If you own a shop, we recommend checking out these books:
Available for purchase here.
Available here.
More than the number of cigars your humidor holds or how many special events and dinners you hold, excellent customer service is what brings people back to your shop. Make sure every customer has an excellent visit. After all, you never know who they could recommend visit--or discourage from visiting your shop.

Looking for something special? Search the blog