This post by Kathy Carrico
Len Stevens, Executive Director
Sparks Chamber of Commerce
re-posted from www.sparkschamber.org
When I first moved to this area in the 1990’s, I was a small business owner just like many of you, successfully running my own pizza place. Pretty soon, the competition moved in – places like Bully’s, Joe Bob’s and Sneakers. Specifically, they all moved in between our store and the softball fields. If you’re a parent with kids in sports you know that softball teams and fans are a big demographic at a pizza place. I quickly learned that I would have to up my game to stay in the game. I learned that if I didn’t leave the store and go out to those softball fields every night, talk to the teams, hand out coupons and make my business known, than somebody else was going to do it and get their business instead. By making an effort to develop those relationships I was able to receive and maintain their loyalty as customers.
This is why it’s disturbing to me when I see small business owners who never leave their stores. I usually hear this as a reason for not attending the dozens of events and programs that the chamber offers every year: “I just can’t leave the store – I’ll lose money.” My response to that is: “You can’t afford not to leave the store!” If you leave the store you could be at a chamber event with up to 300 people in the room and make 4-5 quality connections. How many quality connections will you make sitting behind a counter waiting for them to come to you? This doesn’t just apply to chamber events either. I hear stories all the time from the business owner who goes to watch his son play softball, sits next to someone, starts talking business and makes a connection.
This is how you build a client base, using the same timeless principles of creating trust and interpersonal relationships that have always existed in business and always will – digital age or no digital age. Recognition of your business and your name by word of mouth is much more readily received by others because they know and trust the individual they’re hearing about you from. It’s all about building your business, one loyal customer at a time.
My father taught me, “It is better to serve 1 customer 100 times than 100 customers 1 time.” That is how really successful businesses are built, even during tough economic times. People still have needs and the toughest economy in the world is not going to eliminate those needs. Customers are drawn to the people who go the extra mile to service their needs. You can’t do that by sitting in your store. You do that by leaving the store and building relationships.
– Len Stevens>