Yesterday, I filled you in about a great little puppy daycare called the Puppy Lounge. It’s a great place, specializing in dogs under 35 pounds, where you can leave your dog for a couple hours ($2 per hour) and know that he is going to be taken care of and safe. There is a whole bunch of things that their puppy sitters do that I loved and learned from.
Let your customers try your product or service for free: If you are selling a product or service that you are proud of then stand behind it and give your customers an opportunity to try it for free. At the Puppy Lounge, your initial visit is free. It gives you the customer a chance to experience what they do and it gives them a chance to see if your dog can actually socialize with other dogs.
Customer service matters: I don’t care what type of product or service you are selling, if your customer service sucks people will not talk about you and you risk having them walk away from your business for good. The gals that run the Puppy Lounge are awesome – they care about both the human customer and the canine customer.
Expensive is okay. When you offer a premium service, don’t be afraid to charge a premium price. Will you scare some people off? Yup, and you probably didn’t want them as your customer anyway. The Puppy Lounge has a small “boutique” in the lobby area where you can buy all sorts of small stuff for small dogs. They charge a decent amount of money for these items and they sell them. They should because they are selling stuff that their clientele cares about. So they are willing to pay a little more.
Niches are good. In this world of big box retailers where everything is about selling mediocre products to the masses, it is a great idea to cater to certain potential shoppers. Anyone can start a puppy daycare, but the folks at the Puppy Lounge went after certain customers – people with small dogs. They understood the need that small dog owners have, a safe place where they can socialize their dogs where they aren’t going to get mauled by large dogs.
Your customer in front of you many not be the person you should be focusing on. Years ago, I worked at a grocery store and we had a weekly club where kids could come and join in kid-focused activities, like learning about community workers, arts and crafts, etc. Our main customer was the parents; however, by catering their children, the parents knew we weren’t there just to sell groceries. We were there providing meaningful solutions for them and their families. When you walk into the Puppy Lounge, your dog is their customer. He is the one they say hi to first and he is the first one to get shown around the place. We love our little Charlie and it felt great to see being cared for.
Being a good listener matters. It is amazing what can happen when you actually listen to your customers. They might talk to you about all sorts of things and if you want to win them over, you should listen to them. You might be busy, but you should never put menial tasks ahead of listening to them. Strangely, you might just earn yourself a friend (a.k.a. a loyal customer). When we first walked into the Puppy Lounge and Charlie had settled into his new hang out, Cassie and the gal working the front desk started talking. Cassie related the crazy experience we had the previous weekend at a local dog park. A gigantic German Shepard decided that Charlie looked like a delicious meal. Luckily we were able to save our little boy. Anyway, the young lady at the desk listened to Cassie. She was empathetic. She was awesome.
Your website doesn’t have to be extraordinary. Have you checked out the Web lately? It seems like every site now features more bells and whistles than they provide meaningful and unique content. Customers aren’t looking for bells and whistles. They want solutions. The Puppy Lounge has a decent site. It’s cute and has the information you need to find their business. It’s really a no-frills site with the exception of one very important element – a web cam so you can watch your dog play with the other dogs. Do you think this matters to their human customers?
Word of mouth is amazing. When you deliver a business that matter, that customers actually care about, they will talk about you. Just imagine for a minute not having to break out the wallet and paying thousands and thousands of dollars advertising your business. It can happen. We have been to the Puppy Lounge one time. They sold us on their service in that one visit and I can tell you that we have spoken with dozens of people about this remarkable place. Oh, wait, I just told another person – you!