May 21, 2012

There Is A New Pizza Restaurant Coming To My Town

By Paul Bieber

This is big news.  I live in a very small town in Southwestern New Hampshire. How small is it?

  • We don’t have a traffic light, but we do have a couple of stop signs.
  • City hall is open 20 hours a week.
  • Our town budget allows for repaving just two roads this year.
  • One day, three years ago, I had to wait for two cars going by our driveway before I could pull out.  It hasn’t been that bad ever since.
  • Our Post Office was scheduled to be closed, but was saved by the change in the budget last month.

OK, you get it.  This is a big deal.  But what is the business lesson for us in the glass industry?  Or, really any industry.  About six months ago, an existing store was converted to a pizza restaurant.  They made decent pizza, had some good sandwiches and even began a delivery service.  But they closed about two months ago.  Their dinners were not great, but, in my opinion, what hurt them was their service.  They just didn’t get it that the customer was the reason they were in business. 

So now, another pizza restaurant, based in the small city about a half-hour away, is going to open up a satellite shop.  This store is known for quick service, great help, and really good pizza.  But the really good pizza doesn’t matter, when they will be the only pizza place around.  What matters is that people will want to go there rather than eat at home.  It is all about service, even if you are the only game in town. 

There is no business in the world that is guaranteed to survive.  You must service your customers to make them come back.  What this means to our glass industry is:

  • Be open the hours your customers need, not what fits your schedule.  Be open all day Saturday.
  • Train your office folks to be able to answer questions, not just take messages for you to answer tomorrow.
  • Leave your job sites as clean as you found them, or better yet, cleaner.
  • Explain to your customers why Low-e glass is better than clear float.  Educate your buyers, they will tell their friends that you know what the heck you are doing!
  • Deliver the pizza while it is still hot…oops, I mean deliver your glass when you say you will.  Give yourself an extra day to make sure your fabricator doesn’t slip up.
  • Train your installers to act professionally.  No more dirty T-shirts, no smoking in someone’s house, no beer for lunch.
  • Clean every piece of glass you install.  Don’t ever leave a label on unless it is requirement of the architect.
  • Maybe you don’t have an award-winning showroom, but it should be organized, neat and the bathrooms clean enought for your Monther-In-Law.

OK, you get the hint.  Even if you are the only glass shop around, you still have to earn the business.  Now think what you have to do when there are glass shops on every corner!