After spending most of my morning preparing for a marketing workshop I will be conducting this week, I decided to stretch my legs and visit some of our SBDC clients in Hagatna. I wanted to get back out in to the small business trenches and see how the owners and their staff were doing.
It was lunch time, so I first stopped at the Chamorro Village food court and wandered by all of the food booths. I was happy to see a new Filipino food business open near the stage, but also noticed that several booths were shuttered up. In the last 13 years that I have been at the Guam SBDC, I have seen many food businesses open and close at Chamorro Village. We even have a reference to the Bermuda Triangle for the booths located near the Stadium because many of them seem to close up shop within a year. There are so many factors that contributed to their demise, but the bottom line is they burned through their cash too fast.
After peering through screens of the few booths and observing the variety of comfort foods, I decided to buy lunch from a business that I knew provided consistent high quality and tasty barbeque meat. As I approached the counter, I noticed the woman behind the screen seemed unhappy and irritated. Without making eye contact, she asked me what I wanted and hastily took my money and proceeded to prepare my lunch plate. I thought to myself that something must be bothering her. I even felt bad for her because she was not having a good day. Worse yet, I also felt her negative energy and was slightly offended by her lack of customer care. Needless to say, she put my plate on the counter and turned away while I quickly grabbed it and left feeling not as good as when I arrived.
After visiting a few more businesses, I went back to my office and ate my barbeque plate lunch while I wrote this article. The food was still the same consistent quality that I expected, but the negative energy from my interaction with the employee having a “bad day” also left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Businesses need to be authentic and true to their brand by focusing on the needs and desires of their customers first. This means that businesses need to be authentic and true to their brand by focusing on the needs and desires of their customers first.
This was actually good content for my marketing workshop and visiting that food business reminded me of a very important point: Businesses that spend valuable time and money on marketing strategies and activities without a comprehensive customer care program are missing the point of being in business. This means that businesses need to be authentic and true to their brand by focusing on the needs and desires of their customers first.
The barbeque business at Chamorro Village advertises on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Trip Advisor and Yelp. It appeals to several market segments: local residents, military and tourists. The food represents a local experience through its barbeque meat, red rice and finadene. The business promotes itself as local, which means the overall experience should emit cultural hospitality and consistent food taste and quality for the customer.
Whether the customers are a local family that buy from them twice a week or a group of Japanese tourists that will only visit once, the overall experience should be the same customer care that is consistent with their brand. At the end of the day, if a business embraces consistent customer care, their customers will be their greatest marketers.
Denise Mesa Mendiola is a senior business advisor to UOG - Guam Small Business Development Center; program coordinator for Bank of Guam Women in Business Program; and program coordinator at Local First! Guam, Entrepreneur. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.