The secret weapon of small business

Latest posts by Joel Welsh (see all)

It’s gotta be Customer Service.

I could try to write a pithy blog with supportive documentation and research statistics to back up my hypothesis. I could quote successful entrepreneurs and point out entire businesses that have succeeded solely on the basis of customer service as the backbone of all that they do.

Instead, let me tell you this:

I walked into a new store in my neighborhood on Saturday night on my way home from the studio after the live StartupNation Radio show. I had driven by the store at least twice daily since it opened a month ago but hadn’t stopped. The only reason I stopped Saturday is because my neighbor told me about his good experience in the store earlier in the week.

I wanted a 6 pack of beer. I’m partial to the micro-brews & have a favorite, Burning River Pale Ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I wondered if this new store would come through.

Before I had taken 2 full steps in the door, the proprietor introduced himself as Danny. I told him that I live in the neighborhood & that my neighbor had told me to stop in. He ran out from behind the cash register, warmly & enthusiastically shook my hand with a big smile and summoned his younger brother for an introduction.

He called me by name & when I pointed out the beer that my neighbor had bought for me earlier in the week (I have nice neighbors), Layla from Israel, Danny said,

“Oh, Lee is your neighbor?”

2 things – my neighbor already is on a first name basis with the beer store guy, & my new beer store guy remembered my neighbor’s name! (see, I’m already calling Danny my new beer store guy)

Anyway, Danny gave me a free Godiva chocolate, then gave me a tour of his store. I did find the Burning River Pale Ale (named after the Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969, just a little hometown nostalgia for me), bought a bottle of wine (Yellow Tail Shiraz – Australian) that I wasn’t planning on purchasing & I finally got out of there to go home, watch baseball & drink my birthday beer after 20 minutes. (I was REALLY getting thirsty by then!)

This experience that I just had with this small business owner? It never happens in the big chain grocery stores just down the street. It’s only Tuesday, but I’m already considering reasons I might want to stop in to see Danny on my way home from StartupNation HQ. Even if it’s just to see that big smile. Yeah, right.

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