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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- Build Tomorrow’s Community Business Sector - October 24, 2018
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Becky McCray says
Reader Peggy Sanders, from Oral, South Dakota, wrote in with these:
Here are two more small town service stories, from a column I wrote for The Fence Post out of Greeley, CO.
Doing business in a small town has its own rewards, and not all of them can be measured in financial terms. Last week my husband took a broken hydraulic hose to get a replacement in Hot Springs, SD. Due to the fact that the hoses require specific ends, or fittings, and the hose itself has to be cut to the required length, they are not made up ahead of time. Instead each hose is custom-made, on the spot. When he got to the local parts store, he found the hose and one of the needed ends was in stock, but not the second end. Did the parts manager say, ‘Sorry. We can’t help you today,’ and go about his work? No, he called a competing parts store and found they had the necessary fitting. Russ picked up the hose end, brought it to the place of business where he started his search, and had a new hose in very few minutes. That is service.
My favorite customer service story occurred thirty years ago. Our younger son wanted to wear a camouflage uniform for Halloween so he could be a soldier, just like his dad. The task of finding a set that would fit our son’s small body began; I found what he needed in Anderson’s a downtown Chadron, NE clothing store, but they had to order the pants in his size. I hadn’t paid any attention to the calendar but two days before the costume party, our son asked where his outfit was. I called the family owned and run operation and discovered that the brother thought the pants were destined for lay-away and had dutifully taken care of them. The wise and caring sister asked me, “Where to you live? We will bring them to you after work tonight.” Now, we live 60 miles from Chadron, the purchase price was less than ten dollars, yet she was willing to deliver, just so our little boy wouldn’t be disappointed. I met her half way between our house and Chadron, saving both of us many miles.