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SSIA Articles

Customer Service

by Dana Huval, Huval's Boot and Shoe Repair,

Crowley, LA

Customer Service can be the heart of your business or your downfall. It’s not that hard to be nice, smile and offer suggestions to your customers. I know we get so caught up in the amount of work we need to have ready for that afternoon, but the counter should be your best friend.

If a lady with high heeled shoes comes in with worn out heels, show her a protective sole. Protective soles today are made from materials as thin as one millimeter and come in tan, black and red. They are very pliable and will keep shoes comfortable, keep the sole from wearing out and provide a non-slip sole for your customer. Just remind your customer if these are her dancing shoes, they will no longer slide on the dance floor.

What about a shoe shine? If her toes have worn the color off and she has a few scuffs on her heels, this will add extra dollars to that ticket.

You can suggest extra repairs for men also. We get a lot of boots in our shop. If a customer comes in and only wants heels, we check the soles, because they usually wear the same as the heels. If they are in good shape we will suggest a heel plate. It will add a little extra income to that ticket.

Work boots come in for repair all the time. One of the most requested repairs is stretching. The majority of our customers pick boots off the shelves and buy them without getting their feet measured by a good shoe/boot store. These customers have no clue what a good fit is.

When our customers want work boots stretched, we suggest installing zippers. We also mention that we can put a toe cap if they ever have problems wearing out the leather that covers the steel toe. You would be amazed by the extra repair work we receive by suggesting these extra repairs.

Just keep in mind, if you add extra work you will also need extra time to get all these jobs done. We keep a little cheat sheet taped to the counter, reminding us when we can have certain jobs ready. It’s much easier for us to follow a guideline for pick-up days.

I realize every once in a while we get an unreasonable customer who wants the repair work done their way, right now and usually for free. My friends have described my reaction to these customers because I never realized how I handled it. Once I have figured out it will not benefit me to take the job, I will step back from the counter, tell them “Have a nice day,” walk over to the patch machine (which is by the front counter) and start working. They now have the choice to take their repair work home or pay me the amount I want for the job and leave it. I give them the choice.

My goal has always been to offer the best repairs I can do. If I would not wear or use these repair items myself, I would never return them to my customers. The supplies I use are the best I can buy and my prices reflect that. They simply have to. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is so true. I would never use poor grades of leather on someone’s shoes or boots.

Be proud of your supplies. For example, we stock Avanti dowel lifts and super taps for the round heels. We have upgraded to the Avanti quality of lifts. They never have any air holes and I have confidence they will outlast any other dowels I have found.

One of the best things I have always offered my customers is retail. I try to keep six of each of the shoe care items at all times. Everything on my retail shelf is also used in the back where we shine shoes. I would never offer something if I did not like the way it worked. Some companies have better products than others. There again, I offer the best products available to me. Besides cleaners and conditioners, we have a huge selection of shoes laces, shoe fitting aids, arch supports and insoles. If you do not have it available on your shelves, you cannot sell it.

Customer service is suggesting products that will help your customer’s feet feel better. I have noticed lately people’s feet hurt them. This is a great opportunity for me to sell them something to help their shoes fit them better. If you do not have a nice selection of retail, add a few items with each of your orders. It will build up for you. Just make sure you have a nice shelf or pegboard wall to display them. We also apply a return label on all of our cleaners and polishes to remind our customers where they need to get the replacements when they use that entire item.

I hope you take the time to offer more service to your customers. Remind them of other services you offer:

  • Replace buttons/ snaps on jeans

  • Shorten purse straps

  • Shorten belts that are too long

  • Add insoles to shoes that are too big

The list can go on and on. You know what you can do in your shop. Just let your customers know. I hope you get so busy you need some extra help.

The holidays are just around the corner. Think about getting some shine boxes for a great gift idea.

Hope you stay busy and promote your business.

  © 2005 Shoe Service Institute of

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