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May 14, 2014

A [FREE] Way to Set Yourself Apart

I destroyed my feet last week in my vacation adventures. Most people think of Hawaii as all tropical islands and drinks with little umbrellas in them but Matt and I chose the more hiking/biking/scuba-diving/surf-attempting/shark-cage-diving route and therefore I came home...

I destroyed my feet last week in my vacation adventures. Most people think of Hawaii as all tropical islands and drinks with little umbrellas in them but Matt and I chose the more hiking/biking/scuba-diving/surf-attempting/shark-cage-diving route and therefore I came home not massaged and rested but completely exhausted and sore from head to scraped up toenails.

I know. I was in Hawaii. You don’t feel sorry for me.

But still, I needed a pedicure. There’s a new shopping strip that’s opening up exactly 0.4 miles from my house and one of the businesses is a nail place so I decided to give it a shot yesterday.

I walked in to this brand new business and smiled at the attractive blonde-haired woman behind the counter who I presumed was the owner. She didn’t smile or greet me.  In fact, she looked confused as to why I was there. [Strike 1]

After I initiated the greeting with a smile by saying “Hi, I’d like a pedicure please,” she responded with a (slightly annoyed) “Okay….” [Strike 2]

They just opened and I would expect that they were trying to earn new business so I was getting confused now. By her face and tone, I started to wonder if I saw the sign on the door wrong and they weren’t really even open yet.

Finally, after a good and painful awkward silence, she looked at me like I was stupid and made a statement-question, “Do you want to pick out a color.” and motioned to the nail polish display with the enthusiasm of April Ludgate from Parks and Rec. [Strike 3]

I picked out my polish and eventually showed myself to the back seats and proceeded with a pedicure that maintained that initial experience throughout the entire 45-minutes that I was there. They were confused and inconvenienced and I apparently was an idiot.

I’m not mad at them about it and my toenails look fine. But here’s the takeaway… I won’t go back.

This business is opening up in a spot where there are 6 – count them, SIX – other nail salons within a two-mail radius, and those are just the ones that I know of off-hand. If they want to survive, they have got to set themselves apart from the many other choices around them. Knowing this in the back of my mind, I tried to figure out what their strategy was.

  • It wasn’t the quality – that was average.
  • It wasn’t the salon atmosphere – theirs was pretty standard.
  • It wasn’t the pricing – that was the exact same as the surrounding businesses.
  • It wasn’t the service offerings – they didn’t have anything new or different.
  • It wasn’t the hours that they were open – they had the exact hours of other places.

There’s one card that they could have easily played that would have set them apart, made me come back and is completely free: It’s the way that they treated me.

They could have greeted me with a smile when I first walked in. They could have super-served me with warmth and a friendly attitude. They could have asked me about how I heard about their business, and if they had, I would have proceeded to gush about how thankful I am for the new shopping center that I can walk to from my house with my dog. They could have gotten to know me. They could have made me feel good which in turn, would make me want to go back. They could have been kind and built a relationship with me.

Relationships are the lifeblood of service-based companies. I don’t buy a Coke because I love the person selling it to me but you better believe I won’t allow someone that I don’t like to watch my dog or help me buy a house. In fact, I’ve gotten average hair color and cuts for years in college because I loved my hair girl so much. (I don’t advise this, but relationships are powerful.)

When I showed up there, I wanted them to win. I was pulling for the new business by my house. I envisioned walking down there on Saturday mornings, grabbing a coffee at the new coffee shop next door and then stopping in to treat myself to a $15 indulgence of a manicure. I wanted a reason to leave my old salon. But instead, they gave me a reason not to.

Setting yourself apart in business isn’t hard.

Smile.

Be friendly.

Act like you care.

It’s the faces that you make and the tone that you take that brings people back…

Or not.

Make people feel good and you will make them want to come back.

“People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

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