It is really rewarding to talk to local businesses for a living. The realities of being a successful local business are very subjective. There can be five dining locations side by side in a shopping center and three will have really slow lunch crowds, while two will have long lines. It can be debated – is it the food? Is it the pricing? Or, perhaps it’s lousy customer service/experience.
I personally have witnessed the failure of multiple restaurants for some or all of the above reasons. Usually locals check out a new restaurant within the first 90 days of opening. When the experience is fair to bad, Yelp reviews come in with few stars and, if enough people don’t come back, the business may fail almost right away.
If a business owner looks at the company’s Yelp reviews, listens to customers when they make suggestions, and makes sure its marketing dollars are working, the establishment has a better chance at succeeding. Even though the economy has picked up, people still don’t want to spend good money on poor service, bad food, or poor customer service.
Let me give you a good example of a great restaurant owner. About five years ago, Steve Youlios opened his first Jersey Mike’s shop in a tough shopping center. It was situated where, if you miss the turn to get there, you may end up in another city before being able to make a u-turn to get back. His sandwiches were not the lowest priced in town, he had a so-so location, but he thrived. Why?
Steve knows his customers. He knows how to train good kids to be great workers. He donates and adds value to everyone who comes in contact with him. He remembers almost everyone’s name and story. Steve will even ask how your spouse is doing if he knows they are sick. It comes down to one skill: Steve ENGAGES with his customers and staff. He listens to feedback from them all. He looks at Yelp reviews and he serves the best quality of sandwich he can at an affordable price. If you do not have your customers raving about your business you should find creative ways to engage them. Find a way to make the experience more fun or find a way that you can cater to their special needs. Be ready for honest answers and respect the time they took to share with you. If the sandwiches are always cold, or if they find the staff behind the cash register rude or inattentive, isn’t it better to know that and fix the problem in order to “stay” in business?
We will be celebrating our 25th year in business in 2014. Those companies that have engaged with our company for over 20-plus years are going to be honored in the coming months. This is our way of saying thank you for supporting us! Please look for the stories of their successes here in the Santa Clarita Gazette and on www.sceneinscv.com. Learn how they managed to thrive in all types of markets. Please support our locally-owned businesses. Locally-owned business people reinvest 86 percent of what they earn back into the community.
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Ed and his wife, Marlene, are owners of 25Score, a locally-owned business in Santa Clarita. 25Score is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Ed is an advocate for small business owners. If you have questions or comments, contact Ed at ed@25Score.com. Ed is always “In Your Corner.”