I learn so much from small businesses that I visit.
I have previously written small business thoughts while having a pedicure and recently, I looked around as I sat in the chair at the local barber shop. Suddenly, I had many useful thoughts about local marketing lessons that could be gleaned from this small business. I eventually came up with seven.
Local Marketing Lessons
I discovered the Traville Barber Shop in 2007 due to their signs. The Strip Mall at Traville Gateway in Rockville, MD was new and as I drove past my regular commute route, I saw the sign and decided to try this small business. Primarily it was the closest and I still go there.
I must add that I was the first to review this business. Now, it has 24 reviews and many of them say that they didn’t want to review it, selfishly, because the “best kept secret in Rockville” is now out.
Takeaway: If you have a brick and mortar business, you should make sure you have signs with direction arrows in the surrounding areas. Especially on weekends.
“Open” for Business Sign
When the store is open, there is always an “open” sign that attracts attention by blinking. Sometimes, I make the impromptu decision to walk in as it is conveniently open. They also have clear business hours and a nicely marked sign when they close for holidays or other occasions.
Takeaway: Consider an illuminated flashing sign that indicates your business is currently “open for business” during business hours. Also provide your hours of business. If you ever have to close for holidays or special occasions, make sure you have a sign to indicate this.
The Ritz Carlton Way
I am not saying they copied from the Ritz Carlton’s books, but as you walk in, almost all of them look up and greet incoming customers. The owner, Dimitri Axaopoulus, always make sure he talks to every customer when he is in the store.
Greeting every customer is important.
Takeaway: When a new customer enters your business, a friendly greeting goes a long way to make them feel comfortable. You have to stress the importance to everyone on your team. Remember, smiles are free and priceless.
Asking the Right Questions
I am not that particular about my haircut and too many questions bother me because I am scared of the results of my instructions. I like saying a simple “short” or “medium short” and they seem to know the rest. They do periodically ask my opinion to see if they are following the instructions and I have observed them catering to other customers who want their hair cut in a particular way.
Takeaway: There are several points in the delivery process of your product where your customer’s opinion is important. Build a way into that delivery process to get your customer’s opinion. Train your team to ask the right number of questions at the right time.
Setting Customer Expectations
When I went for a haircut this weekend, it was busy and the chairs in the waiting area were almost full but . But the wait was not long. There was enough staff and I was seated within 3 to 4 minutes. As new customers came in, they were greeted and told that the wait time was not more than 10 minutes and that was probably accurate.
Takeaway: As you become successful, don’t let your service drop. Scale the business and set the right expectations for your customers so that they keep coming back. On the day, I was getting ready to be the keynote speaker at Georgetown University’s Certificate Completion Ceremony and could not have waited long. I am glad they had extra team members to handle the volume.
You go for a hair cut and then you are delighted by touches like – warm shaving cream and a shoulder and head massage. Suggesting a trim of hair around ears and eyebrows are all things that make me happy. It’s also the way for this store to give it’s customers something extra as part of the package. That delights customers, as you can see from the Yelp reviews.
Takeaway: There is always a way to provide something over and above to delight a customer. Remember, the chance of your next new customer coming from your existing customers is very high.
Taking Care of Non-Customers
Even though my son does not get his hair cut here, he wants to come with me most of the time. He gets hot pop-corn, maybe even a lolipop and the chance to play with the cars in the waiting area. This goes a long way with kids. I have seen a large amount of them come to the business.
Takeaway: Offer customers something that takes care of them while waiting. There are many ideas for this – maybe a car wash while you get your haircut? That’s probably carrying it too far but, who knows? My friend, Anjali Verma at Kidville Bethesda, has an area where kids can get a hair cut and many parents use it.
What have you learned from your local barber?
Barber Photo via ShutterstockMore in: Marketing 101