Lunchtime: I’m in the sales pipeline for small business

A glimpse into the lunch hour of a typical customer:

Here’s what happened in my world over the past 60 minutes. I was touched by several small businesses, reminded why I do business with some & not others, hooked by a store’s grassroots word-of-mouth promotion, paid a premium price for a premium product & was happy about it, brainstormed about how entrepreneurs are growing their small businesses, … oh & gave my fiancé fresh flowers. All in all, a typical lunch hour.

Entrepreneurs, are you listening?

Here are the details:

Suzanne had an appointment in the town where the StartupNation HQ is located, so I offered to meet her at her appointment with pizza slices since she wouldn’t have time to grab lunch. Not just any pizza, Brooklyn Pizza – one of our 3 favorite pizzas in the metro area. More expensive than most, but well worth it. 4 slices & a soda later, I was on my way.

There is construction in downtown Birmingham and cars are not supposed to take a left turn at certain intersections. They do it anyway & I wonder about how just because you drive a fancy car it doesn’t mean you have class. Out of reaction, I commit myself to doing business with someone who drives a simple car or has a simple storefront, or …

On the way to meet Suzanne, pizza in hand, I pass by the Original Pancake House & realize that it’s not that far from my office – I ought to go there for lunch soon. (great past experiences plus geographic proximity = repeat customer)

I pull into the parking lot before Suzanne arrives & stand outside my car eating a slice of pizza and I can’t miss a huge SHURE MORTGAGE sign on the building next door. I start thinking about refinancing.

After handing off the pizza to Suzanne & hanging with her for a few minutes, she heads into her appointment & I begin to drive back to my office. One block away I see Papa Joe’s, an upscale food store & I remember that they have free food samples (I remember because people talk about it all the time!). The 2 slices of pizza just didn’t do it for me, so I park & walk on past the Cingular Wireless store (I’m a customer but am not all that happy with how high my cell phone bills are, so I don’t even consider going in just to “look” at the latest phone options even though mine’s over a year old & there are surely newfangled ones) to go in & eat free food.

On my way to the free food I pass by fresh tulips & remember how much Suzanne loves it when I bring her flowers for no special reason. I eat a bunch of free food – the guacamole is not nearly as good as my homemade but the gorgonzola cheese spread really hits the spot as does the fancy bread dipped in imported olive oil. Feeling guilty for eating free food & having a great desire to surprise & please my fiancé 3 months before our wedding, I buy a bunch of tulips & walk them over to her car, leaving them delicately placed on the windshield.

Extremely pleased with myself, I walk past a veterinary practice that specializes only in cats on my way to my car. I think, if we didn’t really LOVE our current vet, why wouldn’t I take our 2 cats to such a vet? They surely MUST know cats better than those vets that see ½ cats, ½ dogs & a few rabbits & turtles thrown in. (great customer care & years of medical records keep me from seriously considering taking Moses & Joshua to the Cat Practice for their flea medicine next month, but I’m still tempted in the future to go to a “specialty niche” business)

Small business owners, you have SO many opportunities to keep & grow your customer base. Just during my lunch hour, I made several purchasing decisions, planned for future transactions & decided against giving my money to some businesses. This is happening every hour of every day.

Are you taking advantage?

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