7 Strengths of Small Town Businesses #2. Make Customers Feel Loved

7 best strengths of small town stores

7 Biggest Strengths of Local Shops

And how you can build on them.

Remember the 7 Weaknesses of Local Shops? They were crazy popular because they touched a nerve. I acknowledged that some of our local businesses really need to step up to earn business today. This series is the flip side of that idea. Small town stores have strengths, too. Our best local shops know a lot about customer service and community, and every business would be wise to learn from our strengths.

  1. Get to know you
  2. Make customers feel loved
  3. Fewer layers
  4. More flexible
  5. More knowledgeable
  6. Innovative
  7. Benefiting the local community

Strength 2: Make customers feel loved.

“Can I help you?” In small towns, this is a genuine offer of help. In big cities, it’s something you say to a suspected shoplifter. (I swiped that from Darrin Rose.)

Maybe being friendlier and more caring seem like outdated values. On the contrary, even big boxes are realizing that caring and even love matter. Charles Whetzel is the CEO of the Fort Worth-based Buxton Group that advises big boxes on site selection. In describing why big box stores are having to scale down in size, Whetzel said, “Quite honestly, a lot of retailers have come back to the customer service days where the customer feels loved. If you can win on service, even if a product is online, people will come. They enjoy the entertainment factor of shopping in the store.”

Hmm. Maybe there is something to this caring idea.

In that case, small town businesses may be in the best possible competitive position. How do small town businesses show their caring? Lots of ways.

We’ll laugh and talk with you. Why? We’re used to knowing the same people inside our business and in our outside lives. We’re used to smiling and waving at people. We’ll take time to be sure this is the right thing for you. We may even talk you out of a sale, if that’s the best thing for you.

We greet everyone. We just don’t have so many customers that we can afford to ignore any. So we tend to say a friendly hello when anyone comes in the door.

We ask questions. We don’t grab the first item off the shelf and shove it at you. We keep asking questions until we figure out what really is the right fit for you.

We take time. We don’t expect you to rush your meal so we can have your table. We are happy to let you browse. We don’t mind if you ask a lot of questions and take a lot of our time. Well, we might mind, but we’ll try not to show it.

We’re courteous, and we try to be helpful. We may call you “sir” or “ma’am.” We will definitely say “thank you” and mean it. We’re polite even when we can’t make a sale. It’s how we were raised, and courtesy simply makes things more pleasant.

We are interested, and we connect beyond business. Because all small town people are interconnected, we’re naturally interested in your life, not just your money. So don’t be surprised when we ask about your kids, your hobby, or your latest accomplishment. Are all small town businesses this good all the time? Of course not. It’s the best of our best. But we can all work to improve on it.

Next up: Strength 3: Fewer layers

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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