... "I think the most important thing I did RIGHT was be a good person and make sure that customers left my store feeling positive things and not negative things, no matter what".
She was not exactly surprised by my answer as a fellow Winter Garden resident herself, but was a little taken back that I didn't say something about my products or about actual business tasks. Don't get me wrong, without good products or business sense a business will fail no matter what, but those aspects seem to be the obvious answers. I created an environment where people feel like they can come in and get specialized service and help, ask questions (even personal questions they may not feel super comfortable about), and receive honest feedback and understanding.
Winter Garden has been home to me for almost 8 years and it is my dream town. It's the perfect place to raise a family and it has the best people who all love the same things. The best coffee, the best City Hall, and the best community with so many wonderful engaging festivals and things to do... like a brewery, and parks! I mean seriously, Santa and his sleigh come around to all of the neighborhoods with fire trucks during Christmas time. I really don't know if it gets any better than that!
I know that businesses cannot accommodate 100% of the population - someone will not be a good fit, will think someone had an attitude when really it was something else, or not care for the products or understand their purpose. I had a lady tell me my soap prices were ridiculous at $7 a piece because she could go to the Dollar Store and buy a 3-pack for $1. My response? "These are 100% natural and handmade, but if you're happy with your soaps from the Dollar Store, definitely continue to stick with those". I could have been confrontational and explained the issue with chemicals, your skin, etc, but we were on such opposite sides of the skin care spectrum I wanted to let it be and let her leave my store without any personal hatred to the business as a whole or feeling like she was attacked or harshly informed.
I also had someone yell at me on a Sunday for not being open on Saturday (the previous day) during Farmer's Market hours - going on and on about how it's bad business to not accommodate customers. What she didn't know, is the day prior I was at a funeral for my ex-father-in-law and the person that was supposed to open the store for me called out that day for personal reasons. I had no extra staff then (my first year of being open) and the only other person that helped me (my mom) was also at the funeral. I closed the doors that day since I was running the business alone, and then was scolded the next day for being an inconvenience. Although my first reaction was wanting to yell at that person and kick them out, I just simply stated we are a very small store with minimal staff and we just didn't have coverage and had no choice but to close for the day - and I apologized for the inconvenience.
Why does this all matter?
People talk and share their experiences more than ever before. Word of mouth isn't just face to face interaction anymore, it's social media, pictures, and entire Facebook communities that review local businesses and spread to tens of thousands of people that sit directly in the community. If we didn't have a friendly environment, I can guarantee that 99% of our customers just wouldn't come back no matter how much they liked the product. No one wants to be treated poorly or feel like they are a burden when they come into the store or when they ask me questions online. The truth is, everyone wants to feel like they are the ONLY customer and feel like they have a bond with me, my employees, and the store. It's a good feeling when you visit a place and you are recognized and have routine conversations about your life and how things are going. It makes you want to come back and support that business - and that is what we have achieved and will always hope to achieve - local, personalized, small-town service with a national presence.
The bottom line is that I hope you share ALL of your experiences with me! If you want to leave a review you can comment below or email me directly at email@example.com or you can leave us a review on our Facebook page (every single review is 5 stars!).
If you have any concerns, I ask that you please contact me and let me know what's going on! That is the only way we can meet your needs and discuss specifics.
I love running my business this way - it's why I wanted my own business in the first place! There is no greater feeling in the world than contributing to your community in a positive way and sharing that positivity, friendliness and love to customers. I cannot imagine running a business and not being nice or accommodating. I don't want anyone to leave my store doors unhappy - ever - and I hope that has made an impact to you all as loyal customers. We hope you continue to stick with us for the long haul, and that you appreciate our customized service!
Thank you for being a part of this wild [flower] journey of mine!