I just went for my monthly haircut.  I typically have a few options locally available to me and my decision is usually based on convenience (who’s the closest, who’s the cheapest, how can I get it done the fastest…).  I say this because so many so small businesses are notoriously bad when it comes to establishing local marketing campaigns.

I’ll make this short.  I sat in the chair.  The young lady began to cut my hair and I asked her a simple question.  “What are you doing today to ensure that I will be back in 3-4 weeks?”  She looked at me and didn’t know how to answer.  Small Bz mistake #1.  Then I asked her a second question.  “What are you doing to make it EASY for me to refer others.”  Again, no answer.  Small Bz mistake #2.

Here’s the short answer.  For question #1 – the answer has to be directly related to “WIIFM”… “what’s in it for me to come back”?  Soooo many business owners look at a customer the wrong way.  They look at a customer as a “sale”… not a “customer for life” – and their job, quite frankly is to “take me off the table”, remove the competition from my mind… and lock me in.  If her answer to my first question was – we offer a loyalty program where you can buy 5 haircuts at a discounted price – but – only if you buy them upfront.  So – instead of making $15 from me today – they’ve got me locked for 5 haircuts over the next 5 months at $50 or $60, but I pay today.  The real answer is – I will come back, if they made me this type of offer.  And taking this one step forward – what if they said this – if you refer three others, we’ll discount your package even further.  Now they’ve taken the crucial step of empowering me to refer and giving me a bonus to do so.

The true value of what I bring to this organization is so under-utilized.  It’s about TCV – Total Customer Value…and realizing what I really represent to their organization over just a haircut.  My TCV to them is the total $$$ I will spend with them over the course of my relationship with them… and not spending it with their competition.  AND – referring others, friends, family… and my immediate family – wife and kids.  What they fail to realize by not “taking me off the competitive table” IMMEDIATELY is that they not only lose me… they lose the potential of an immediate growth opportunity of capturing the business that my wife and kids could bring to them.

Anyway – without risking a “ramble on” here… I think the biggest mistake they’re making at this business… Small Bz mistake #3… is not empowering their beauticians, their salespeople, the one’s who are the first and last point of contact with me – with the tools to help them grow their business exponentially.  The “I’m not sure” answer is hurting them beyond their wildest dreams.

That’s just plain dumb.