What sets a business apart? Seriously? Awesome products? Well, yeah. A fun, unique approach to their industry? Of course. But you know why consumers are still doing business with little mom and pop shops when there’s a major supplier of just about everything out there, and the Internet is available to conveniently bring it to them? Because they take the time to turn their heads from product development and where they want to go and make the most of where they are.
I think a lot of us fall into the trap of losing sight of the balance between where we are and where we’re going. If you’re a big business, you’ve got a whole team of people whose sole job is to come up with awesome new ideas to keep your business moving into the future. If you’re a small business like us, however, you have to split your resources. You have to divide your day between taking care of the customers you have now and the customers you’re going to have tomorrow, and if you think a bunch of customers that don’t even exist yet aren’t going to take up a whole lot of your time, you’ve got another think coming.
So how do you make sure your customers are satisfied without digging your business into a rut you can’t get out of? I have three words for you: Marketing, and Time Management.
Set aside a certain number of hours each week to plan for the future of your business. Those can be hours spent out in the field, talking to your customers and getting a feel for what they want and expect from you, or hours spent in your office brainstorming ideas and/or implementing ideas you’ve already put into place. Once you have that idea, kick it over to your marketing and development people and let it go. Let it breathe. Let it take shape. And let it transform.
Once that time is done, turn your attention to your business today. Get to know your customers, they love being recognized when they walk in the door. Figure out what you can do to make their customer experience better right now. A coffee pot on a cold winter day? Cookies and candy bowls at Christmas?
Yes, I’m a compulsive feeder. The kids in my neighborhood swarm at my house like little locusts because my cookie jar is never empty. Which is exactly my point. When you’re planning Christmas dinner but your cookie jar is empty, your place is going to be packed on Christmas day and empty the other 364 days of the year. Keep that cookie jar full, and make sure you’re taking the time to appreciate where you are, and the people who love you now, as well as where you’re going to be.