When it comes to the longevity and ultimate success of a small to moderately sized business in the hospitality industry owners would argue any of two dozen different aspects that are most important and key to their individual success. However, I would argue that the work consistency while not thought of often is one of the main drivers to their success, referrals and cult like following in a community. Would that quaint little bakery downtown have been able to withstand decades on razor thin margins if their bread didn’t raise consistently and their cinnamon rolls did not create sugar highs and cavities? Without the consistent home baked products and owner’s toothy smile Wonder Bread and Little Debbie would have put this home-town staple out of business years ago. Years ago with the purchase of restaurant and bar we discovered there was a policy that states: ‘after 10PM if there are 2 or fewer customers the bartender is able to call last call at their discretion and close for the evening.’ This policy to be rather interesting. What makes one bartenders propensity to stay open different from another? Is it the perceived value of tips they could earn? Being able to spend time with a loved one? Perhaps one’s love of sleep or even need for socialization? All of these are considerable factors in someone closing or not. Now let’s assume the opposite position. You are out with your girlfriends on a holiday weekend, no one has to go to work in the morning and you decide it is time for a change in scenery. However, when you show up to your chosen venue it is closed at 10:30 because of the discretion of that evenings closing bartender. Will this ever be considered as a viable option after 10:30 for your party again? Will the fact that they are closed be shared to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family? Answers: no, yes.
Interestingly this topic came to mind as I attempted to patronize a small business in rural eastern Tennessee. I had been in communication with the owner for several weeks about a product that was being brought into stock. I was excited to view this product and potentially make a substantial cash purchase. (several thousand dollars) Upon re-arranging my schedule to arrive at their web posted opening time on a Saturday I found a hand written note stating: ‘Sorry, closed for the day!’ Immediately I thought about how I hoped the owners were enjoying a well-deserved day off with their children. Then I reflected back on the scenarios above, and just how much they missed out on that day in sales, and perhaps further from customers that were not gained as repeat customers.
The take away from this month’s nugget is to remain consistent. Consistent not only in your product and offerings but in your hours of operation. Your best customers are relying upon you just as much as your small business is relying upon their support.
If you think your small business could benefit from an outside lens consider reaching out to Andrus Hospitality: email@example.com.
Jacob I. Fait, PhD – Contributing Author, College of Business-Dean & Hospitality Consultant