Monday, December 05, 2011

Chapter MMMDI: How to Lose Your Small Business Its Customers

A couple weeks ago, my friend Shyam and I wandered north to Knoxville to eat some Indian food and catch a movie. I recommend the Malai Kofta from Sitar, though I think it's likely a Hindi phrase meaning Musical Tour of the Digestive Tract.

I also recommend the flick 50/50, despite my longstanding grudge against Seth Rogen. Why a grudge against Seth Rogen? I dunno. Maybe it's because of his stupid laugh. Or maybe it's his lucking into fantastic roles with little to no discernible acting ability. Or maybe it's the self deprecating humor and curly hair, which touch a little too closely to home.

Still, 50/50 is a fine flick, and I recommend it. It's one that I'll watch again down the road.

Anyway, on our trip back, we detoured through Madisonville. We took the route I used to take home from work when I was working up near Tellico Village. As we were passing a store front, I think I was telling a story, and stopped. I though I'd passed a Wine and Spirits Store. In Madisonville.

Huh. Couldna been.

Sure enough, though, we passed another, and another.

Found out via the interweb that Monroe County passed liquor by the package. Not only did Madisonville have it, but so did Sweetwater, a small town some 10 miles north of here.

I had a rare, rare day off today. Not to make too much of a disgression, but the workload's been difficult even for a holiday, and poor communication between myself and another store led to me having to make a trip I didn't need to take yesterday. So, over a 60 hour period from Friday to Sunday, I worked something like 38 hours. So, my today was spent in part cleaning my shithole of a house, and then wandering out into the world before Cabin Fever overtook me completely.

My travels (which included a stop at the Oasis Men Call Buddy's Barbecue for some Pig Nachos), took me up toward Sweetwater.

I decided to stop into one of the new liquor stores in Sweetwater, mostly to look around, but perhaps to pick up something medicinal.

I'm a beer guy, mostly. Beer Snob is a better way to put it. But, I'm not above a bottle of whiskey or vodka, from time to time. I thought maybe I could find something for a snort, while there. But, the main thing I was loking for was something from the higher gravity side of the beer family. The selection at the first store was slight. There's a sad obsession with Mike's Harder Lemonade at these type spots in this neck of the woods, and this place had them in spades, but beyond that, there wasn't much to choose from.

Thinking I was just going to grab something else, I decided to ask the guy walking around the store if they were planning on expanding that line.

"No," he said, disinterested, not even looking me in the eye.

"Oh," I said. "You've got a couple."

"Yep," he said.

"You're not going to get more?"


Clearly, we'd developed a good working relationship, what with his never having once stopped what he was doing to look me in the eye. So, I decided that I was going to describe what I'm looking for. Specifically, they'd have a customer in me if they'd put Dogfish Head 90-minute in as a regular item.

"We're not going to carry a lot of that stuff."

"OK." I told him I hoped they changed their minds, because I drive to Knoxville or Chattanooga to pick the stuff up, and would grab it from their store if they carried it.

It was only then that he looked at me. And said "I don't think we're going to carry it."

I wish I could say there was a long discussion. There wasn't. This man wasn't wanting my business. For whatever reason.

Wandered up the road a way, and found another of the establishments that had opened. This one (Wine & Spirits 660 New Highway 68) was a more enjoyable outlet. Had a nice conversation about beer, in general, with both gentlemen working inside. Smart guys who knew their beer. Hoping their knowledge of product extended to the wares on a certain side of their store, I then asked for a recommendation for a bottle of wine to give as a Christmas gift, for I am Vino Ignoramus.


I'm up on my soap box. I guess the point is? Don't be a dick.

I work customer service. And I'll grant you, it's tough, sometimes.

I also grant you this: The Customer is Not Always Right. There's an agreement there, between customer and client. The customer occasionally asks the impractical, and downright impossible. Sometimes, that truth has to be distributed.

However, if you're in a small businss, opening your doors relatively recently? Treat your customers better. I don't need my ass kissed. I would like to be shown respect, and not be treated like a dumb asshole.

Even if that is what I am.

And if that's the case, your competitor got this dumb asshole's money.

Anyway, two addenda to this post.

1.) The two businesses in question are strikingly similar in name. It's why I didn't mention the problem business until now. I'm just not that strong a communicator. I had an issue with my service experience at Highway 68 Wine and Spirit. I won't go so far as to say they're a bad store, but based on my experience, I probably won't shop there again soon. I had a very good experience at Wine and Spirits 68, and while it won't be an every week thing, they'll get a little more of my business if I head back that way. I was pleased.

2.) A Twitter conversation with the helpful folks at Dogfish Head has brought me the information that Dogfish isn't distributing in Tennessee for the time being. They pulled out simply because their core service areas weren't receiving adequate service, and they were at maximum brewing capacity. Which is a fair answer. (Plus, if I really, really, really need some 90 minute IPA, I can still head down to Beverage World in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia...still a favorite haunt....)

So. That's been the day. Woot.


Blogger Elisson said...

The booze - it is everywhere!

9:19 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

I don't really understand why someone would open a small business and then act like a complete ass toward any customer walking in the door. I guess he thinks since his product is alcohol based he will always have customers... *sigh*

11:51 PM  

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