I think small communities welcome the chance to support new business owners, especially if they come from the same community. Just as much as America has been founded on the hopes and dreams of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Microsoft, we also need to pay attention to the small mom and pop places that are necessary to meet consumers basic needs.
However it does frustrate me when a new business goes into a crowded field and doesn’t pick up on the little things to gain customer trust, loyalty and possibly repeat business. I think businesses forget the fact that just opening up your doors and announcing you are here may get you that initial curiosity factor, but it won’t pay the bills and get you into profitability 3-5 years down the road. So here are some things to ponder, just from my own personal experience.
1) Treat the customer like gold.
What’s wrong with getting to know their name, welcome them to your establishment, and make them feel important? They are after all spending their money on your product or service. For instance, in a food service restaurant if the person taking your order or the cooks making your food give off an attitude where they couldn’t be bothered, what signal does that send to the customer? An exchange of manners will do wonders for a customer’s morale.
2) Be careful of your price point.
If you are going into an industry where there’s healthy competition and you are going to charge more than your competitors, you better delivery something special to justify your prices. Are your materials of the highest quality? Is the decor of your establish scream professional to be taken seriously? You can’t expect to be charging premium service/ product prices if you establish your business in a lower middle class area. It’s one thing if you are in the limousine business delivering business clients, but if you expect them to pay the same prices and you transport them in a little yellow beaten up taxi cab, understand that you are doomed for trouble.
3) Go the extra mile.
Get to know the customer beyond the mere transaction. The more you know about them, the more they will want to be around you. If you don’t think you can remember everything in the mind, jot it down immediately on paper. If you can establish phone and email contact beyond direct mail, do so with special offers and sales to entice repeat business. Tie yourself in with community causes you believe in, establish rapport and trust me, people will be more willing to be in your corner.
4) Show your love.
If you aren’t really into your business, how are we supposed to get into it? Smile, engage in conversation, laugh- even if you have to fake it until you make it, do so. People love stories from the heart. We want to feel like we are a part of the success, a part of the team in making things happen. If you position yourself as untouchable, you won’t have enough support to sustain interest in your products or services.
I may be in the minority in giving new establishments a couple of chances to gain my repeat business. If you burn me bad once, I won’t return. Bad news travels fast folks- according to many of the latest numbers, you’ll get people telling 15 others about their bad service experience with a business. Can you afford to lose that many people?
Think, plan, go forth, and train everyone on the art of customer service. Have an awesome day everyone!