By Joyce Pearl, SCORE Counselor
What can you do to make your business stand above the rest? When you consider that there really isn’t anything new under the sun, it takes some clever ideas. Creative thinking is important during the planning stage, long before opening the literal or virtual door to your customers. Two ways to stand out from the crowd are to have a niche and/or exceptional service.
Even a small variation can place your business in a niche in the industry. If you have a pizza shop, it’s hard to stand out as that is a popular business. Visiting the competition might give you an idea of what has not been done. You may need to dream up unusual toppings. But, how about providing something extra for take-out orders? In addition to napkins, why not paper plates and hand wipes, of course imprinted with your business name and phone number and a take out menu. Don’t forget that the cost of extra paper products needs to be factored into the selling price. This is a place where owner supervision is important. Employees will throw in handfuls, where as the boss will count out what is likely needed.
Attention to serving your customer is another way to set your business apart. An example might be a home or commercial painting business. Call two days before starting to confirm the time of arrival and re-confirm the expected time the work will take. When the job is completed, the painter should identify the color and room on unused cans of paint. Why not advise the customer that you will call in six months (or 12 months) to check if any touch up work is needed, of course at no cost. And mark the calendar to do so, because it just may be that other painting is needed at that time. Send a holiday greeting to remind the customer that you are available to do more excellent work. Remember, time is money so the extra touches need to be built into your estimates even if the cost is small.
Finding a niche and offering attentive service to the customer goes a long way in assuring the success of your business.