This past week, Natalie, Jim and I (Mike B.) got to road trip up to Minneapolis to visit one of our clients, CarHop. This was partially to get some business done but also to give me and Natalie a chance to visit a few CarHop stores and get a better idea of how the business engages with its customers.
We met with salespeople and store managers, went through application the process, and got to spend time with both customers and employees of two different stores throughout the day. As Jim was expecting, this helped us develop a better understanding of our client and should help us as we plan and focus our marketing efforts moving forward.
Based on our visit, here’s my advice for business owners of all types: consider taking some time out of your day to be your own customer. Give yourself an opportunity to see what it is your business does well, decide what it could do differently and figure out which little changes have the potential to have a BIG impact on your company.
A Frustrating Example
I’ll give you an example of why this approach can help. Last night we stayed at a hotel that will remain unnamed. As I went to plug in and charge my phone for the night (which was basically on death row after a full day of travel), I ran into a problem: there wasn’t an open outlet anywhere near my bed.
The only outlet nearby was full with the bed lamp and a clock. And although that clock would work as an alarm, I prefer my phone for a number of reasons. So I had to make a choice – either plug in my phone across the room, or unplug the clock or lamp. Ultimately I chose the lamp, so I dragged the little table out, unplugged the lamp, plugged in my phone, pushed it back in place, and then had to do it all in reverse again in the morning.
Was it the worst thing in the world? Of course not. Jersey Shore is. But it was inconvenient enough to frustrate me. And it also made me realize that, perhaps if the hotel’s owner had a full day of meetings and then stayed a night in his or her hotel with a dead cell phone, that owner would realize a solution might be worthwhile.
I’m Not The Only One
In a recent USA Today article titled “What do Road Warriors want in a hotel stay?”, Richard Hadden said he appreciates “electrical outlets that I don’t have to crawl around on the floor or move furniture to get to.” I’m with you, Richard.
And the solution doesn’t need to be as drastic as rewiring the building’s electricity. Maybe they could buy lamps with an outlet in the base or something to that effect. The point is, I’d have been happier with my stay if charging my phone had been simple.
Is it minor? Yes. But a company that excels in the minor details wins in the big picture as far as I’m concerned. So, if you are a business owner, be sure to visit your own business as a customer, not as the owner. You might be surprised at what you can learn. And you just might make your business better as a result.