It may be that I grew up in a small town area, but mention “small-town service” to people and they will know what you are talking about.
So when I saw the tagline on this business sign, I felt I understood how this business treated their customers. (You can read more about developing the tagline for your business at my previous post, Seven Steps to a Small Business Tagline. )
I am talking about that feeling of being known, the feeling that someone will take the extra steps to make sure you are satisfied.
Let me give you an example. Several years back, my family and I were driving through Missouri and we had a flat tire. I am a farm boy so not a problem, except I couldn’t get the wheel rim loose from the wheel studs. Well, a helpful patrol officer stop and gave me a tip. Not only that but he then led us to the nearest town. He knew a station that, although closed, would probably help us get the tire fixed and get us back on our way. The service station was closed but opened up, rapidly put on a new tire and we were on the road again.
That’s an example of small-town service.
Yet, small-town service does not just happen. I have had similar assistance in the big cities as well.
So what is small-town service?
It begins with conversation and a person willing to listen to what we need. It isn’t about what they have to sell but our needs.
The conversation leads to a connection and then on to assistance. I have experienced people going well out of the normal course of their business to help me get what I want. I have even had a referral to a competitor who had what I wanted. (Remember the scene from “Miracle on 34th Street.“)
Small-town businesses, most often small businesses, should take advantage of their ability to connect with customers. It’s an advantage that businesses in a larger city can achieve only through much more effort. In the small town you don’t have to create community. You are surrounded by it as you work and live.
Small-town service is real. Customers know it when they receive it and will return for more.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.