The first order of business will be finishing the Ten Things I started back when the wind was colder and the days not so packed with activity as they've become. Apparently, I have a throng of mobbing fans that have waited beyond their patience threshold and must see these last five things- including one pun obsessed very dear minister who I would hate to disappoint.
So, without a second longer to wait- the final five:
5. Don't, for the love of whatever deity you worship, smoke directly outside of the front of your business. Don't let your employees smoke directly in front of the outside the front of your business. Strongly discourage your patrons from smoking directly outside of the front of your business. Do I care if you or your employees smoke? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Smoke until your shriveled gray lungs fall right out of your body- that's your right as an American, and I support it wholly.
However, I have asthma. Your smoke, innocent enough to you, impedes my daily ability to take in fresh air and function at 100%, and if I have to walk through it to patronize your store- I'm going to go find another, where no one smokes out front.
Plus, I resent smelling like a seedy bar simply because I walked through your door. So, go to the back door to smoke, and have your employees do the same.
4. Make your shop entry look attractive- not like a place to pass drugs. Many businesses don't own the sidewalk or curb in front of their stores/shops. Often, municipalities can't keep up with the rampant litter and dirt in a specific locale- which makes it up to the owners to decide whether they're going to take care of it themselves or simply shake their heads and walk back into their shops.
Customers notice when shops and businesses are well kept. They notice when there's trash piled up against the display window, and they notice whether that display window has changed in the last six months or not. As a business owner, no doubt you're likely busy and pulled in a hundred directions- but this has to be a priority for you. If a customer feels like the facade of the business is run down and seldom tended to, they'll pass and go to one that's clean, current, and safe looking.
3. Don't make it hard for me to spend my money with you. Please take debit and credit cards. Yes, I know- the processing companies take out a certain percentage in fees. Yes, I know- the percentage seems much higher then reasonable for a small business owner. I agree- it's frustrating. But, if you think I'm going to go to an ATM that's not mine and incur a $2.50 fine simply for getting out cash and an additional $1.50 from my bank for not using one of their ATMs, you're incorrect. I, and many people like me, will simply go elsewhere to get what we need.
2. Know your products. I might ask for advice, and while I don’t expect you to know everything, I do expect you to know about what you carry. This one seems fairly self explanatory, but in the case that it's not, let me clarify slightly. If you opened your shop out of a passion for what you do, chances are, you know just about everything about what you're selling and this will never be an issue. But, if I bring up a question about why what you carry is different than what your competition carries, I expect you to be able to answer simple questions about the differences in product, including why you chose your inventory over other choices on the market.
1. Get a website and have your hours, location, and phone number clearly marked on the front page. If they change, update your website and facebook page. This past 4th of July, both me and my husband were home in the afternoon for the holiday. We had a few purchases to make, and we checked the facebook page of one local shop to see if they had holiday hours (they did). We ended up spending $200 plus there, and other folks were coming in the door as we left. Conversely, there have been times where I've gone in to a business during their normal stated hours on facebook, and they failed to post that their hours had changed. As I posted in the first half of this 'Ten Things', I need what I need, usually within hours or days of needing it, and if you can't be bothered to keep up with your own changes, I'll find somewhere else that will.
So that's it- the second half of my ten things I want small businesses to know. These things matter- at least to me, and my guess is, to most of your customers as well.
Thoughts? Anything you'd add or take away?