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:
- Sign Strategy
- “Open” for Business Sign
- The Ritz Carlton Way
- Asking the Right Questions
- Setting Customer Expectations
- Providing Extras
- Taking Care of Non-Customers
Local Marketing Lessons
In the summer of 2007, the vibrant allure of signs drew my attention to the Traville Barber Shop. Nestled within the freshly built Strip Mall at Traville Gateway in the heart of Rockville, MD, it stood as a beacon of community enterprise.
Every morning, as I meandered through my typical commute route, the captivating signboard of this establishment beckoned.
The decision to step in wasn’t just due to its strategic location but also the inviting ambiance it projected.
Over the years, the proximity advantage coupled with their consistent service quality cemented my loyalty, and I found myself repeatedly returning.
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.
- Ensure you have signs with direction arrows in 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.
- Use an illuminated flashing sign during business hours.
- 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
While it’s not my claim that they’ve directly imbibed practices from the esteemed Ritz Carlton, there’s an undeniable air of hospitality at the barber shop.
Each step through the doorway is met with warm, acknowledging glances, reminiscent of luxurious hotel service.
Dimitri Axaopoulus, the affable owner with a keen eye for detail, has cultivated an environment of genuine care. His presence is a constant assurance; regardless of how bustling the shop gets, he never misses an opportunity to personally engage with every patron.
Such heartfelt greetings don’t just foster familiarity but embed trust and respect.
- Always greet every customer that enters your business. Smiles are free and priceless.
Asking the Right Questions
Haircuts, for me, have always been straightforward affairs. I’m not one to dwell on intricate styles or elaborate trims. The very idea of specifying every minute detail often sends anxious jitters down my spine. In my interactions, a mere mention of “short” or “medium short” suffices.
However, what’s admirable is the barber’s intuition and expertise. They don’t just blindly follow; periodic check-ins to ensure alignment with my vision are common.
Moreover, their adaptive approach isn’t just limited to me. Over time, I’ve noticed their meticulous care in tailoring services to patrons with distinct, precise haircut preferences.
- Train your team to ask the right 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.
- 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.
- Set and manage customer expectations.
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.
- 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
My son, with his buoyant energy, rarely sits for haircuts at this establishment. Yet, the allure of accompanying me seems irresistible to him. And it’s not just the prospect of a new hairstyle that entices him.
The shop, with its thoughtful amenities like piping hot popcorn and vibrant lollipops, makes waiting an adventure. An assortment of toy cars sprawled across the waiting area becomes his playground.
Such gestures, seemingly simple, speak volumes about the shop’s commitment to holistic customer experience.
It’s no wonder that a multitude of kids, lured by these trifles, gravitate towards this establishment, cementing its place in the community.
- 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?
To provide a concise overview of the insights and lessons drawn from my experiences at the barber shop, I’ve consolidated the primary takeaways into the table below. This serves as a quick reference guide, highlighting the core strategies and practices that any local business can adopt to foster customer loyalty and enhance overall service quality:
|Observations at Barber Shop||Takeaway for Small Businesses|
|Noticed the barber shop due to their signs||Ensure you have signs with direction arrows in surrounding areas|
|“Open” sign that blinks||Use an illuminated flashing sign during business hours|
|Staff greets incoming customers||Always greet every customer that enters your business|
|Asking customer's opinion during the service||Train your team to ask the right questions at the right time|
|Informing customers about the waiting time||Set and manage customer expectations|
|Offering warm shaving cream, massages, etc.||Always find a way to provide additional value|
|Providing popcorn, lollipops, and toys for non-customers||Offer something for those who might be waiting|
Barber Photo via Shutterstock
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