If you don’t have a Facebook page your local small business will surely go under. If you’re not buying PPC AdWords, you’re bound to fail online. If your website doesn’t rank number one in your niche for local search, you may as well close up shop. These are the types of things I hear from social media marketing and seo gurus day in and day out.
Is It True?
There is a diner restaurant in the same mini mall center as my Los Angeles chiropractic office. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. It is a family owned business (one of two locations) that was started in mid-2001. Certainly a time when businesses already had website, but it wasn’t necessarily the most popular thing for local businesses to do. During lunch hours and especially on weekends, good luck trying to find a parking space anywhere nearby, the lot is packed, and so is the restaurant.
For breakfast and for lunch (hours the place is best known for) the restaurant appears to always be bustling with clientele. The weekends even more so, with lines of people piled out the door, waiting for a table so they can get full on massive bacon avocado omelettes, homemade salsa, and pancakes that are almost the size of manhole covers.
Do we have a team of social media gurus to thank for all the restaurants success? Was it their highly optimized and localized restaurant website? Is that their Facebook page, their LivingSocial, or Groupon online coupons that are driving masses to their business?
Being someone who has a bit of interest in local search, social media, seo, and even running a small business, I find places like Ronnie’s Diner fascinating. They do have a website, which looks inspired directly by Café Meaty Yummers. The address is an image file, and the menu is offered in PDF.
Aside from the site, there are no Web promotions, no online coupons, no discount meals, no Facebook pages, no twitter accounts, no Foursquare specials, and no personal Ronnie’s blog with posts about how he regularly puts his back out stuffing all that cash into his mattress every week.
It’s not that the owner is not interested in search and social media, he may very well be. We’ve had a conversation or two in the past on the topic, and left it at that.
What’s His Secret? Serve good food and listen to your customers.
I go to the chiropractor (hard to believe eh?) and guess what? My chiropractor doesn’t have a website, a Facebook page, a twitter profile, a blog or anything else online that talks about his business (other than the times I’ve mentioned him in the past). He does have an e-mail address, it’s an AOL account.
When I go to see him, do you think he’s sitting behind his doctor’s desk just waiting to get me adjusted? He’s not, because he’s crazy busy adjusting other patients. The guy sees more than 400 patient visits per week on average (for you non-chiropractors, that’s about four times the weekly average most chiropractors are seeing), and he’s only the second best chiropractor in Los Angeles.
So what is his secret? He’s great at what he does, provides good service, keeps his fees affordable, and asks all his existing clientele for referrals. Did you get that? Like clockwork, he asks every single person that comes to his office, to refer someone else. He tells them he would appreciate the opportunity to help them be healthier.
He doesn’t buy PPC advertising (I don’t think he even knows what it is), he doesn’t buy Facebook ads, he doesn’t participate in any online coupon specials (he doesn’t even participate in any off-line coupon specials). He simply goes to work each and every day (Monday through Saturday for about 26 hours total) and provides chiropractic adjustments to all those that want them. Think his model will be crushed by social media?
My Mother Was Right
Years ago my mom ran one of the most successful catering operations on all of Long Island, she has since retired but the principles that made her successful in business still apply today. As a caterer in New York, she organized parties, gatherings and weddings, for mayors, governors, presidential candidates, celebrities and even large Italian families. Ever watch someone put on a party for 10,000 people? She was an absolute master in the philosophy, science, and art of what she did. I grew up in the surroundings of her catering and food industry world of New York and that’s where I first learned about service.
How do you turn a group of a one 100 hungry people, who are waiting 45 minutes for a table, into raving fanatics? Four words.
Drinks on the House
Walk into the kitchen on any given night and you may had mistaken her for a military drill sergeant. Witness her out on the restaurant floor and she was loving people up. There was so much emphasis on service, it would drive the average employed person into hysterics. Trust me, I spent many hours in those kitchens, and if a drop of au jus sauce was dripped on the plate where it shouldn’t be, that plate wasn’t going out of the kitchen. Food was served hot, it was served in an organized fashion, and the place ran like it was a thing of magic.
Growing up in that environment, I experienced hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of smiles. Happy wedding goers, successful bar mitzvahs, presidential campaign galas, you name it, I worked them. And it all came down to one thing.
As a chiropractor, when I say I serve God by Serving Mankind, I mean it. Yes, I have the convenience of social media and seo to help me better communicate with my clientele, but when it really comes down to providing them the very best, it’s a hands-on job. No amount of Internet marketing is going to replace the skills I’ve developed in my 16 years of chiropractic.
Will social media grow your business? No argument from me there. Does a successful social media campaign equal success in business? Does the number of Facebook friends or twitter followers determine whether you’re going to be able to put your kids through college?
It doesn’t matter whether you run a restaurant, flower shop, chiropractic office, bed and breakfast, or casino. Unless you’re employed at the Mustang Ranch in Reno Nevada, never forget the first rule of business.