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Marketing / Sales strategies

The water’s over there!

Hey, I love the pursuit of efficiency in business, but flexibility and consideration have a place too. Well, assuming we value our customers.

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I adore hanging around in cafés. Each time my son says he’d prefer we don’t watch him play sport, my heart does a little somersault and Jane and I dash off in pursuit of the nearest barista. Deep joy.

Small retail businesses have always held a fascination for me, particularly when I can legitimately sit there and observe close up. Readers of our little book may recall an exercise comparing loved and unloved cafés and what distinguishes each.

Suffice to say, the ‘loved business’ is the one doing good business: staff are happier, the ambience is nicer, the food is hot, the customers are chilled and yes, the place feels loved.

On paper, having self-serve water is a smart idea. The business makes no money on tap water and it’s one less thing for the wait-staff to worry about. It’s a no-brainer and I generally endorse it wholeheartedly.

"A business that cares about its customers would surely do well to show some flexibility and grab the opportunity to over-deliver. "

But what happens when business is a little sluggish and staff are standing around? What should happen then?

In such instances, a business that cares about its customers would surely do well to show some flexibility and grab the opportunity to over-deliver.

“I’d normally point you over there, but we’re quiet, let me get it for you.”

Instead, what I often witness is a situation more akin to, “The water is right where I’m headed, but as I don’t really care that much about you, I’m going to stay over there and do nothing, while you get up from your comfortable seat, follow me over and then walk back again. And good luck carrying three glasses, by the way.’

Does your small business stick rigidly to a self-serve model, when surprise-serve may just be a better option?

Robert Gerrish

is the founder of Flying Solo and helps soloists stay upbeat and energised. He’s recently published The 1-Minute Commute, is a presenter and facilitator and works one-on-one with those needing a refresh. Find out more about his skills and services and his Olympus Trip 35 camera side hustle or connect on LinkedIn.

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