Contributed Column

Big Rewards for Small Businesses

The fast track to earning five-star reviews

by Karla Giardino, New England Automotive

With technology growing and changing every day, our consumers are taking advantage of the new means to rate and review our businesses. From some businesses, I’ve heard that managing this is more of a chore or a burden. This isn’t a chore or a burden; it’s an opportunity for our small business to shine. With enthusiasm in tow, you can spark the opportunity for your consumers to rave about your business.

Start off by assessing your consumer’s usual mood when visiting your business. If you run an early morning coffee shop, chances are the customers will be up that early against their will and even the slightest inconvenience could throw them off. Whether you have employees or serve customers yourself, exceed expectations with a greeting followed by a compliment on their shoes and a free sample of a freshly baked maple muffin. These three extras, adding no more than 20 seconds to the overall experience, take a three-star review up to a five: “Heading here first thing in the morning is my favorite! Great coffee and friendly service!”

In the auto repair industry, convenience is the name of the game. If something can be made simpler for the consumers, make the change and save them the headache. If I have a customer coming in for an oil change before heading to work, I prepare. For example, the customer’s likely to be in a hurry and might not have had coffee yet. I take the time to make sure we’ve stocked the correct oil and filter for the customer’s vehicle so we can get right to work when it arrives. To seal the five-star deal, I have the coffee and tea brewed and poured and offer up a friendly non–work related conversation. In combination with having them in and out in less than 30 minutes, consumers are very quick to spread the word of their five-star experience: “They had me in and out in 20 minutes for my oil change! Fresh coffee and 30 minutes to spare before I had to be to work really made my day.”

Going above and beyond truly is what makes for happy and loyal consumers. Offering a standard experience for all customers is typically what businesses aim to offer. Take it up a notch by studying the consumer, then throw in personalized extras for the five-star experience. For example, I recently dined at a local restaurant that was a bit pricey. The owner personally greeted and took an interest in each table; he listened to each consumer and got the orders spot on. That was the standard experience and it was satisfying. For the tables that didn’t order dessert, the owner took notice and topped off the experience by personally delivering a small locally made chocolate bar as a parting gift, yielding a five-star experience. “I love this place. The service was exceptional. The chocolates at the end of the meal were such a great surprise; we will definitely be going back.”

Spicing up your small business to provide an exceptional experience proves to be rewarding for all parties to the transaction. Spending an extra 30 seconds could make all the difference for a reviewing consumer. Complimenting consumers, simplifying transactions, and offering personalized extras will keep your customers raving about your business. Put it all into action to watch the five-star reviews pile up. •

Karla Giardino is the owner of New England Automotive in South Burlington, 660-9700.

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