A Local Business Wake-Up Call

Posted by on January 18, 2010

Help you beat the chains? First, help yourself.

Do you like the idea of supporting local businesses?

Is that like asking a politician if he’s for more jobs and against crime?

But … and it’s an awfully big but … your locally-owned business has got to meet me MORE than halfway. Sorry if that seems unfair. Heck, it is unfair.

Get over it.

One local restaurant urges folks to get on board to help them beat the chains. “Chains are bad. We are good.” That sorta thing.

To wit:

  • Twice before the holidays, I called for delivery and was greeted with ‘hello?’
  • Both times, it sounded kind of like I was bothering them by trying to offer them money.
  • I asked if I was, indeed, calling the restaurant. Both times, I was greeted with a self-righteous, “yeah.”
  • The second time, I was abruptly cut off twice when asking simple questions.
  • Neither time did the phone person say ‘thank you’ or ‘good bye.’ Each time, they simply hung up.

Help you beat the chains? Help yourself.

<insert Superfriends transition sounder> Meanwhile …

One of those nasty chains – Target – answered the phone over the holidays at not one, but two different stores in two different towns by nicely saying,

“Hello, this is Target. What can I help you find today?”

That’s right. A real, live, human being person answered. No automated phone tree. Also no hangups or entitled, snippy, self-righteousness.

Target obviously had a system in place. How exactly was that evil? That’s like calling kittens evil.

Your locally-owned business has got to meet me more than halfway.

Or you’ll lose.

It’s not a temporary inconvenience. It’s the new reality of your business, and you best embrace it and – more importantly – develop chain-like, repeatable systems to do it better.

Remember, in this age and day, whether you deliver an exceptionally good or bad experience, social media will only accelerate the inevitable.

And spare me your righteous indignation.

There’s too often a chip on the local shoulder that teeters into defeatist whining. If certain local merchants mustered all that whine-energy and channeled it instead toward improving the customer experience, they’d have much less about which to whine.

I want to celebrate our independents. I really do. I’m sure you feel the same way to one degree or another. Help me, please.

‘Thank you.’

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