Each year for a week in the month of July, you can find me on a boat, in a lake in northern Wisconsin surrounded by my family. It's one of my favorite times of the year to enjoy the weather, beautiful scenery, family time and small-town hospitality.
Well, the weather was rough, with temperatures reaching the 100s, and so was the hospitality. On a day when the temps started getting to me and I was almost at my family-time limit (my sister is pregnant and difficult), I decided to head into town with another not-so-moody sibling for some air conditioning and food.
We popped into one of the six or seven bar and grilles on main street and ordered some pizza and their famous pink lemonade.
While I sipped my lemonade and waited for the pizza, I saw a newspaper on the bar within arm's reach and picked that up along with a pen to do a word puzzle. My plan was quickly halted as the server told me the puzzles were reserved for regular customers.
My pizza standards are low. Even a bad pizza is a good pizza simply because it's pizza. But I expect more from customer service.
I think a lot of people forget that even regular customers make a first visit to your business. It was something you did then that made them return. I know a lot of dealers have been around for a while and have built a large base of returning customers. But as they age, you need a fresh group of regulars to fill that void.
This was my first visit to the establishment and I only return to the area a few times a year. While I know my business alone wouldn’t keep that restaurant afloat, I had to wonder how other first-timers were treated.
As I mentioned earlier, this was one of a handful of eateries on the main drag. The restaurant business is a competitive business just like yours. Market saturation and the economy have an impact on their survival.
There are so many things you can't control in this industry, like the weather. In the article "Weather You Like it or Not", you can learn how dealers across the nation are dealing with the weather they were dealt this year.
The one thing you can control is how you treat your customers. In the article "Selling the Experience", Bob Clements shares how it is up to you to set yourself apart from your competitors with the kind of service you provide.
It’s good to maintain relationships with your returning customers, but don’t let that get in the way of gaining a new regular.