Remember the axoim that on the web, content is king? While we all need to be cognizant of this, when your business is based on providing something – whether it be a product or a service, you simply must be pleasing your customers as well.
That axoim has held true here on the blog too. Time and time again, people have told me not to worry about how often I publish posts, but rather to make sure that when I do post – the article provides good quality. You don’t want to view lame photos and read articles that don’t have a lot of thought put into them. So, when I get busy at work, or am otherwise unable to give this site the attention it needs, readership tends to understand that while I may be gone periodically – I always come back, and it’s almost always good content.
Today, I’d like to share two stores:
Story # 1 – Basil’s Italian Restaurant in Corbin, KY
Our first story is the result of a recent training trip to that neck of the woods. The clients I was training asked where I’ve been staying and where I’ve been eating. When I first started this gig, I was hesitant to share that info – until I realized that they were politely suggesting that they had good ideas for where to eat and visit. I started tuning in and have been getting recommendations across the country. Sometimes, in fact, I’ve attended a restaurant blindly.
This night was no exception. I arrived at the place at 7:20, palette readily salivating for some good pasta. I go in and the place, while nice, appears deserted. I must admit I was disappointed because it came so highly recommended. The place is a one-man shop, and he prides himself on his food from what they say. The next thing I know this “one guy” – Chef Richard – comes out and apologizes but says they are closed.
I acknowledge my oversight at not arriving sooner or checking their hours (they close at 7 because it’s in a residential neighborhood). I start to head out when he rattles off a few items (7 total) that he could whip up quick for me if interested. I don’t want to be a bother because this guy must be tired after a long day. We exchange a little dialogue, and the next thing I know, he is pulling me into the restaurant because he WANTS me to try their lasagne.
Only after being repeatedly assured that it’s not a problem, I take a seat in the otherwise almost empty place (there were a few people lingering at the bar). I order a merlot, and nosh on some garlic bread until the lasagne arrives. Oh. My. God. My mouth had died and gone to heaven! You know that taste of Italian – when it’s good but almost instantly when the acidic nature of the tomatoes hits your throat? It burns a little, right? This had the taste without the acid. It was amazing!
On top of that, Chef Richard and I ended up hugging briefly as I left 90 minutes later. I felt like I had made a true new friend. He genuinely wanted me to experience a wonderful and delicious meal, which I did!
The place was obviously closed, yet they went out of their way to provide both wonderful good food and stupendous service. And one man basically did it all!
Story #2 – The Pink Slip, hotel restaurant in Nashville, TN
Our second story was at the Pink Slip in the well-esteemed Hotel Preston in Nashville. I hear from the shuttle driver that their in house restaurant is available, so I decide to try it. The velvet walls, female lounge lizard singer and guitarist try to evoke “jazz” but really only brings to mind “porn”. Yet it’s been mentioned, so I ask for a menu… The bar-maid (ironically, named “Bar”bara), takes a beer or something out to another table, gets another pair of gals a drink and a menu, then finally comes back to me 5 minutes later with a menu. I hear her rattle off some off-menu items to the gals and make a mental note to ask about the burger. Another 5 minutes go by and she finally gets back to me. Yeah, I can get the burger.
Do I want a beer? Fat Tire draft please – been a long week. A cursory nod, a beer is drawn and brought over. She tunes into Modern Family on the TV (a repeat by the way) as it starts up. Meanwhile the over-amped lounge lizard belts out some 90’s Madonna tunage. Oddly, (during a commercial) she asks if I am ready – uh, yeah, I ordered the burger? She nods and goes back to put the order in that I’d requested about ten minutes ago. I sip the brew, and about half way through, while sipping and reviewing email, ask for a glass of water, figuring the food is just about ready.
The water empties, and the beer disappears. Finally, the food comes, and while it’s not great, it’s not inedible. I scarf it down because the atmosphere is starting to give me a headache. Within 10 minutes I am done, and wait to get a check. Modern Family is almost over though, so I wait some more – I don’t want to interrupt, but will definitely make a note if she looks over. Finally, she looks over and I quickly ask for the receipt. She walks over and asks if I want some dessert – no thanks just a check please.
The bar was clearly open for business, had the grill on, yet I never felt less welcome in an establishment. The burger was on par with McDonalds – you could tell it was pre-made then heated and slapped on a bun before being tossed out to the side of the customer.
This place was almost like they were going out of their way to send the message that they had something more important to attend to than a customer – a repeat TV show.
Which would you rather visit? Now granted, the food at the latter was not worth writing about, but the service sure was! Where content is king online, service is king in restaurants!
How does this relate to photography? Simple. You are only as good as you make your clients feel. There is so much competition out there these days – I can get good photographs from anyone. If you make me feel special though, you will stand out above the crowd. If you seem genuinely interested in me, it makes me feel special (even though I know I’m just another Joe…), and that can make you stand out. It takes dedication, passion and a lot of work, but the amount of passion you put into your work is directly proportional to your success.
But when you deliver just average photos, and seem bothered that the person is preventing you from working a larger gig (or table) and otherwise just not interested in even getting to know you, that can be bad for business. You may get a reputation as an ass. Which will kill the business first – your average photos or your poor attitude? While content may be king online, attitude is everything in small business.
Most photo gigs are small business. Remember the moral of the story here when you get a customer. Big or small, single or simple order, treat everyone special and you will succeed. Otherwise, you are doomed to fail.