In the realm of small business, the currency is time, and the investment in exceptional customer service is non-negotiable. Small businesses, while perhaps not as massive as their big-box counterparts, have a unique advantage — the ability to offer personalized and exceptional service that resonates with customers.
If you expect a customer to shop with you over the better prices at a big box store - you are expected to deliver a better experience.
For those who embark on the entrepreneurial journey in pursuit of freedom and flexible hours, it's crucial to acknowledge that, especially in the early stages, the hustle can feel relentless. Achieving profitability often demands a 24/7 commitment, going above and beyond to earn those coveted 5-star reviews, because, in the beginning, anything less isn't an option.
When a message comes through on Facebook after business hours, respond promptly. When an order is placed, fulfill it promptly. Even when weekend plans beckon, but content remains unscheduled, or newsletters are pending, prioritizing work is paramount.
These are the realities of launching a small business. True freedom materializes once the groundwork is laid, the audience is engaged, and sales flow consistently, all while tasks are managed efficiently, either by you or a dedicated team.
Allow me to share two recent experiences that exemplify what not to do. In one instance, an online pizza order was placed at a new local establishment. Upon arrival, a handwritten note declared the closure, leading to an ordeal for a refund that is still unresolved weeks later. In another, a crystal shop on a Monday became the quest of the day. Despite the abundance of crystal shops in the area, most were closed, missing an opportunity to cater to tourists and locals alike and the one we finally found open on St. Pete Beach, AGAIN had a handwritten note on the door claiming a family emergency. This is completely unacceptable.
For those with an online presence, maintaining updated business hours is an imperative responsibility. A website, a Google Business page, or a Facebook Business page, each should accurately reflect operational hours.
If you have a website and sell products (or pizza's), it is your RESPONSIBILITY to pause ordering if you can't fulfil the order.
A single chance at a first impression was squandered in both scenarios, leaving a lasting mark on my perception and the impression of those accompanying me. Regrettably, none of us will revisit those establishments, and while we refrained from public criticism, candid conversations about our experiences will shape the opinions of those who seek recommendations.
As someone who ardently supports local businesses, I understand the significance of a negative review and its potential impact on a small venture. It's for this reason that I firmly believe in open communication and addressing issues directly before resorting to a negative evaluation. Which is why I choose not to divulge the names of these two companies.
Most small businesses spend hours of their time working hard to get eyes on their business. They shout 'look at me' on every social channel available. When someone finally looks at you... be ready. You have ONE CHANCE to make a first impression.
Remember, in the world of small business, every moment is a chance to shine, and impeccable customer service is the beacon that guides the way. Also remember that if you choose to embark on the journey of small biz ownership, your business must come first if you plan to succeed and reap the rewards of freedom in the future.