Opportunity Rides a Heat Wave?

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It’s hot, no doubt.  If you’re in Petersburg, Virginia you were looking out your office window yesterday afternoon to the thermometer at the bank across the street and it read 104F. Up the road in Patuxent River, Maryland it was 101F. Scan over to your calendar and you’ll notice it’s not even July yet. What’s going on? High pressure and a southerly flow — common during the summer, though perhaps somewhat early in the season. The average high for this time of year for Richmond, VA (not too far from Petersburg) is 88F, while Salisbury, MD (inland, but not too far from Patuxent) is 85F.

Back in January, I blogged about businesses adjusting to better serve their customers in the unusual snow and cold ("Drive Thru is Hot in the Cold"). Studies were showing that businesses who reached out to customers during unusual weather events (snow, in this case) were not only gaining sales but increasing customer loyalty, as well.

New York City sprinklers cool a father and son. Photo: Reuters.

Can businesses do the same thing in the summer? In other words, how can businesses make it easier on their customers and/or how might they increase the base of their customer loyalty? Yes, of course they can. And many are: Airlines and car rental agencies are offering summer discounts to southern cities too hot to attract the vacationing tourist; southern hotels are doing the same thing. Upscale restaurants may encourage more casual attire. Other restaurants, like Sonic Drive-Ins, are increasing drink and ice cream specials in an effort to lure the hot and thirsty. Movie theaters, long known as an easy escape from the summer heat, are hosting marathon showings of "Polar Express." Convenience store managers look the other way when customers linger perhaps a bit too long in the walk-in beer cooler. OK, maybe I’m kidding about "Polar Express," but when traveling by motorcycle in Alabama last summer my wife and I enjoyed the inside of a walk-in cooler at a truck stop for about 20 minutes. After about 10 minutes the manager poked her head inside to say, "Are you OK?" When I nodded yes, she told me to stay as long as I needed.

Keeping a cool head in the Alabama heat is easier when your helmet has spent a few minutes at 37 degrees. Photo: Author.

Horse (and people) misters were a novelty when I visited the 1996 Centennial Olympics in Atlanta but are now common. Would you prefer a "misted" café or event enough to change your purchasing decisions?

Who will get your business this summer? Or, what will you do to build your customer loyalty?

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