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In business? Consider older customers


Queens Chamber of Commerce, September 11, 2012

There’s no age limit on doing business in Queens. The mayor’s office, City Council, and the New York Academy of Medicine through the coalition Age-Friendly NYC has started the Age-Friendly Local Business Initiative to encourage businesses to consider the elderly when serving customers.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce currently sits on the mayor’s commission for age-friendly business.

The guidelines set up under this initiative, through several brochures by NYAM, provide businesses with suggestions -- and benefits -- of building a relationship with older customers. This kind of relationship, the coalition notes, can open a number of doors for better service, better income and better customers.

Providing large-print signage, seating areas and simple infrastructure modifications such as noise control and lighting can lead to happier older customers, according to the initiative’s overview.

The benefits in return, an Age-Friendly NYC brochure says, are loyal customers who care about the places they shop. The number of older clients and shoppers living in the city is expected to double over the next 20 years, according to the brochure. Older shoppers spend around $1 trillion annually citywide.

Productivity can increase as a result of a good rela- tionship with older customers, the brochures note. Older customers can provide feedback to help the services of a business and what could make customers happier.

Customer service, and listening to older customers’ feedback, is also crucial to building a business and a relationship with patrons, according to the initiative.

Carol Ann Conslato, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said this initiative could strengthen small businesses and open up opportunities for owners and customers.

“It just makes sense to educate local businesses on how to be attractive to a very strong market share that could enhance their business opportunity,” she said. “It’s a very targeted consumer base that controls 50 percent of discretionary funding. Queens has a very large consumer base so for our local businesses, there’s a real opportunity here. There’s been studies showing that older adults can be more loyal, they shop frequently.”

Some Queens businesses already have a good reputation with older customers, with great end results.

Ray Cullom, of Queens Theatre in the Park, said older customers make up a large percent of the theatre’s patronage.

“They’re really the backbone of our audience,” he said.

Many of the productions at Queens Theatre are geared toward elderly viewers, and the feedback from on shows, along with the facility and accommodations, has been positive, Cullom said.

“We hear an awful lot,” he said, “and it’s always been productive.”

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Gina Ravosa
Director of Marketing & Communications
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
(212) 822-7285

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