[Guest author Shashi Bellamkonda has a small business profile to share. It may be from downtown Chicago, but I think we can find some good ideas in it. – Becky ]
I was at SOBCon in Chicago and had a problem. I had been traveling for a week and did not get a chance to have a haircut. Now when I realize this on a Friday evening in Downtown Chicago at around 6.30 p.m it’s still a problem. I did what a regular internet geek would do, went to Yelp.com and looked up hair cut places. I called the first one on the list and there was no answer. Friday evening, I am sure these places close, I think by 6. My next call was to Carmine’s Barber shop which had 3 reviews on yelp. The man who answered the phone said they were closed but asked if I can come back Monday. I told him I was in town only till Sunday and his response was- Can you come in the next 5 minutes? I was so happy and almost sprinted down Madison Ave to Carmine’s. (No website, but you can call him at (312) 856-5322.)
Carmine the owner is 72 years old, from Italy ( His words “from a place north of New York”), does not use or own a computer. This was a enlightening situation for me. Here is a business owner not computer savvy getting business through a referral from a community site like Yelp.com .The secret was evident-Customer Service. Business owners like Carmine are laser focused on providing good customer service and keep customers happy. This in turn generates word of mouth both online and offline. Satisfied customers who are internet savvy take the time to post reviews and this helps the business get more customers. I am also writing this post because of the exemplary service Carmine gave me by keeping his shop open till he could finish my haircut and also by the way he conversed cracked jokes and also told me to come and say “hello” next time I am in town even if it was not for a hair cut.
Is he hurting in this economy? He did not think any changes to his business were due to the economy. He said that as corporations leave the office space in downtown and move to the suburbs it affects his business. Also the mergers and acquisitions and layoffs do affect the number of people who come in. From a staff of 4 he has over the last few years come down to 2 employees.
As I walked out of his store with a fantastic haircut I saluted Carmine and the small business resilience. He did not look like he was going to give up on his business just yet, and at 72 he is way past retirement that normally happens in the corporate sector.
What are the other tools that Small Business folks are using? In the Small Business Success Index it was very evident that Small Business use a wide variety of online tools to take care of their customers.
What tools do you use? Do you know all the places where you are mentioned online?