Lessons my local café taught me about being different….
Author: Jocelyn Serone
Learning lessons from a small business in a different industry
In my small town with a population of 3,000, we are spoilt to have 8 cafés. Living on the beautiful Far North Coast of NSW, Australia, most of these cafés have lovely courtyards with trickling water features or outdoor seating under Poinciana trees, taking advantage of our amazing sub-tropical weather. And yet, my husband & I usually choose to eat at the one café that has only indoor seating & doesn’t have the most peaceful interior with trendy seating- why?????
- The lovely lady who owns our favourite café, now knows us by name & is always there to greet us with a huge “hello”- subconsciously planting a seed of loyalty into our heads & hearts. This sentiment can be translated into our own small businesses. When people are personally connected to a business, the feelings of loyalty are hard to break. Can you instil loyalty in your business, by enclosing a handwritten note when shipping an order? Can you remember a personal detail about a customer & mention this when sending an email?
- Whilst I love a good sticky date pudding as much as the next person, I really do appreciate the fact that the cakes & slices served at this eatery are all made on the premises, are usually made from Grandma’s recipe & are not served at any other café in our town. As a business that manufactures handmade garments, I can totally relate to making a product from scratch, which in turn, makes this business unique & special.
- But the main reason my husband & I love this coffee place………. It’s open until 6pm. While the other 7 cafés in town open for breakfast & close by 5pm (some even 4pm), this café stays open just long enough for the two of us to sneak in a coffee after work. Some weeks, this café has been our haven, a place where we can share 3 words together, without kids, emails or phones interrupting! This café owner bucks the trend of opening for breakfast, instead opening later in the day. By staying open until late, the owner has found a niche & does a roaring trade in the last couple of hours of the day. We have tried having a late coffee at the many other coffee houses in town, but it is hardly relaxing sipping your coffee with the tables being packed up around you!
Believe me, I am not putting down the other 7 cafes in town- they are each lovely in their own way & most have excellent service & food. My point is that our fav has found her point of difference by staying open at least 1 hour later in the day, which serves as a convenience to us. This is much more important to us than the ambience of the space.
This topic has got me thinking….. What can we be doing different in our businesses? Yes, we sell similar services or products to other shops or online stores, but can we tweak things slightly to benefit our customers? Can we go a little further to help, buck the trend a bit or provide a convenience that will turn our customers into loyal, raving fans? These fans will gladly give up a flashy exterior for a service or product that will really suit them & their lifestyle.