Advice To Small Business : Take It Like A Man

I was in a small shop the other day buying lunch. As I was waiting in line to place my order, I check online via Yelp to see if they had any check-in offers, and lo and behold, and there was one – not a huge discount, but a pretty good offer for a slightly smaller version of a specific dish for a decent discount.

So when it came time for me to order, I walked up to the counter, and the server behind there looked pretty happy and pleased to serve me. However, when I showed him the offer, his demeanor changed completely…he became sullen and rude, and customer service went from 60 to 0 in a few moments. He gave me the food and rung me up – I gave him a more generous tip to compensate for the cheaper meal, but still, the guy was unhappy.

I guess that he’s probably regretting placing that offer on Yelp. Now I probably would have gone there and paid full price for a meal, but a little discount here and there helps to solidify relationships with existing customers and create new ones with new customers. I’m sure that that offer brought in plenty of new customers, and I’m also sure that a respectable number of those customers returned since the food WAS good.

I wonder if the guy’s attitude would have nosedived just as much if I had brought in a paper coupon? Probably.

But here’s my point: you placed that offer. No one forced you to do it. And you can’t be unhappy about it if someone comes into your shop and asks for that offer. Honoring the offer, and doing it with a smile, will turn that customer into a return and maybe even a regular.

Regretting an offer that you placed is fine too. You can change the offer or stop offering it if it doesn’t work out for you. But while the offer is out there, be prepared to honor it happily. Otherwise, you’re pretty much ensuring a one-time visit.

BTW, this may be one reason why Groupon has hit the skids with small businesses – it works to get people in the door, but if the business doesn’t work hard to capture that business and delight the customer during their initial visit, then it fails. And I’ll bet you that there are plenty of businesses who had a bad experience in gaining regular customers because they didn’t go all out that first time.

It reminds me of when I started wooing my wife. I asked her to the senior prom as our first sort-of date, and I knew that I had to pull out all the stops to impress her at the dance. After that, she was sold. 😉