Improve Your Business
Fresh eyes, fresh ideas!
However much you love your business, familiarity can deaden your senses to its merits and flaws.
To optimise your operation, therefore, the unbiased eyes of first-time visitors are an essential (and inexpensive) tool.
Here are some handy lessons from the (very) real world of running a pub/bar/hotel in a rough suburb.
Answers to tough problems are right under your nose
I'd visited my local pub for ten years. My custom, however, was limited to the tiny bottle shop.
From there I could see the front bar, where colourful locals swore, hit each other with pool cues and fell off their stools.
It didn't occur to me that the venue had other facets.
About a year ago, I was in dire need of a rest room. Unable to front the bar, I desperately tried another of the pub's doors.
It opened to reveal a cosy dining area, an impressive stage and dance floor and a sunny courtyard.
I gazed open-mouthed like Alice at this wonderland, before spotting the door I sought.
Refreshed, I ordered a drink and told the owner how amazed I was by the hotel's hidden charms.
She was equally stunned that I'd not seen her costly ads in the local paper.
I explained that:
1. The paper seldom made it to us.
2. The black paint on her dining room windows spooked me.
3. Her bottle shop gave zero indication of what lay beyond.
4. The atmosphere of her front bar did not invite exploration.
She was keen for my input.
I suggested that she discard the piles of street mags (which held ads for competing venues) and cover her big, stainless steel bottle shop counter with laminated colour photos of the pub's brighter sides.
I explained that every bottle shop patron had several minutes to kill while waiting for service and change.
As a captive audience in a confined space, their best option by far would be to study the photos.
I returned a week later to find the counter was a decoupage of delectation.
I praised the owner and her husband, who reported that the photos were indeed prompting people to penetrate the interior.
They also told me of their plans to transform the front bar into a swish dining zone. The pool tables were gone.
Today the transformation is complete and business is much improved.
How much did my priceless insight and wisdom cost these small business owners?
Two chicken schnitzels with chips and veggies (and they had to insist on that).
So, whether it's a friend (good), a child (better) or a prospective customer (best) you can't beat the return on investment from getting their impartial views.
Send them into your business, make yourself scarce and seek their frank feedback on your return.
Chances are you'll be amazed, inspired and enriched by what you learn.
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.
- The Feisty Empire
Paul Hassing's high-end blogging, copywriting, editing and proofreading services website.