Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.

 

October 2008
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Archive for October 13th, 2008

Welcome to……..

I never cease to be amazed by how easy it is to miss the basics. I was recently reminded of this on my last visit to Wal-Mart. Several years ago when they were new to our state, a Wal-Mart came to a nearby community and everyone had to go check it out. And when folks came from their first visit what do you think they were talking about? The size of the store? The low prices? The tons of merchandise? Nope. Everyone was talking about the greeter and how he welcomed them to the store when they walked in.

Wasn’t it sad that this simple courtesy had become such an unusual occurrence in our lives. Wal-Mart gained a big advantage over many local businesses by starting with the basics.

Well guess what? Wal-Mart is losing that edge. I’d like to say that all the other businesses got the lesson and now extend a friendly greeting to all who visit their stores but no, sadly it seems to be working the other way. Wal-Mart’s greeters are still there but the smile is gone and the greeting is perfunctory at best. I can almost see the replacement ‘Welcome’ sign coming to those sliding doors.

But our desire as customers to be greeted with a smile and an enthusiastic welcome hasn’t gone away. Last I checked it was stronger than ever.

And here’s another place we can use this simple courtesy. A while ago I talked about the importance of economic developers getting out of the office on a regular basis and personally visiting the communities they serve. Well, one of the best things you can be doing on those visits is to stop in to welcome the folks at any new shop or business you encounter. Sure the Chamber may have already had a ribbon cutting or presentation of a ‘first buck’ plaque, but that doesn’t mean you can’t welcome them as well. And bring the mayor or village president along. She may have been at the ribbon cutting but another visit to ‘see how things are going’ will be appreciated by the new business. (And by the mayor as well.)

Powerful, powerful tool. And it doesn’t cost you a dime.