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Old 06-27-2006, 06:27 AM   #11
Spyk'd
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Anyone can sell you all kinds of home brewing crap at ridiculous prices, but what makes them come to YOUR shop? Maybe price, maybe selection, but definitely...


..."customer service".

I've been in the customer service/hospitality business for all my life and nothing makes people happier than making them happy. The key is listening to them and making them heard. Not the same as hearing them. You need to listen to what they want and reinvest it into your company and you'll be gold and no one will touch you because NO ONE out there is listening to their clients/customers/guests.

Be unique and be successful...

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Old 06-28-2006, 05:34 AM   #12
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I've been thinking about your thread Knews and what has already been posted to me seems valid, because these are things I've thought as well...

Cheese made this VERY valid point...

Quote:
you need to be an expert. They'll shop you because you can help them with any question. You need to know every hop and what flavor it has, every yeast and every style of beer. You need to be da man when it comes to homebrewing.

and Spyk'd spoke volumes with 2 words...

Quote:
..."customer service".

Taking these two points, and going head to head with the competition, (based on what you have said about your existing HBS) you come out miles ahead. (at least in the planning stage) It sounds simply like this guy knows he's the only game in town and couldn't really care, and that's a damn shame. Think if someone who might remotely have the passion to start brewing walked into his place and THIS was what he or she had to work with?

Odds are, they'd bail on the concept, and another believer in "brewing your own" would be lost.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is if you believe in it, do it. It sounds like it would be a sideline for you, and if you have the time and resources to do it, then do it, but only if it makes you happy. And if this other shop is as miserable as it sounds, he won't be around long if he had REAL competition. MINOR advertising, but mostly word of mouth will help you prevail. And odds are the satisfaction in your new enterprise will be IMMENSE...

FWIW, I have NO HBS in my town, I do have supplies available in the town I work in 35 miles away, so I have Monday thru Friday to get what I need... (at 2.80+ a gallon, I don't drive like I used to so weekend trips are OUT) However, I don't have the base you have to open a shop here right now, there just doesn't seem to be the market for some reason. (And honestly, if there are ANY Homebrewers IN Decatur Illinois, I'd sure as hell like to know where you're hiding. )

I guess I'm more of a believer in spreading the good news about Homebrew than I thought....

Now back to your regularly scheduled drinking

Ize
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Old 06-28-2006, 06:14 AM   #13
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The beauty of performing superior customer service is that as an employer it cost you nothing! It's not like simply lowering your prices (and profit margin) or buying a fancy new sign, or buying new uniforms for your front line employees. All you need to do is motivate them to do it and it will set you apart.

The simplest examples I can use are:

"Greeting the guest/customer with a smile". What? We need to teach people to smile? The sad truth is, in today's society, we as employers DO need to teach people how to smile to other people when greeting them and not give them the "I don't give a sh!t" vibe that is so prevalent with our youth. (you know who you are).

"Using the guest's/customer's name". What's in a name? A hell of alot. Remember that song that sang the praises of wanting to go to a place where everybody knows your name? We do want to go there, and we do want people to know our names!!! I'd go back to ANY place where they greeted me by name when I walked in....NORM!!@!!


I won't go on, but just to say that I'm a firm believer in setting your business apart, for free mind you, and creating a fun and family like working environment and performing as if "on stage" and giving the people what they want when they patron an establishment.


This is what I do. Ok, I'll get off the soapbox now. Thanks for listening.

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Old 06-28-2006, 01:00 PM   #14
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My LHBS is great for customer service. Whenever I go in, they offer me a sample of their latest and greatest. I sit there and drink it, and they hang out and talk to me. People come in there with their HB and share samples. I've done it too and it's a great way to get impartial reviews.

My LHBS is more of a hang-out than just a store. They have store copies of all the books they have for sale so you can look up a recipe if you need to. They let you sit and crack your grains in their grinder. They'll let you use their scale and often will reseal your bags for you.

If the game is on the radio, they don't mind if you hang out and listen for a while. They know why you're there and they're never too busy to entertain. They give suggestions on how to improve your recipe without making an "upsell". It's comfortable, safe, and friendly. They have rootbeer on tap for children who come in. One time I was in there cracking some grains and a child ran over to ask if he could try (you know little kids - they want to do anything an adult is doing) and the father didn't throw me the "Hey Michael Jackson, watch your hands" looks, he chuckled and had a conversation with another customer.

Simply put, the LHBS isn't Walmart, it's like a Cigar shop. It's a brewer's sanctuary where you can hang out, talk product, enjoy product and converse with other likeminded individuals without sales pressure. I make it a point to bring in a bottle with me when I go there on Saturdays so I can share with everyone else there.

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Old 06-28-2006, 03:10 PM   #15
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I am truly taking the Customer Service aspect to heart since that is thos losers downfall. He3 honestly seems like he couldnt care less if you are there or not. If you ask for assistance3 while he is stocking shelves for instance, he will continue to do so until he is finished THEN see what you need.

A recipe for low profit it seems to me.

I am very interested in the concept of "samples". I have never been to a HBS that has done that, what a marketing tool ! I will ivestigate why that is. Naturally, a liqour licence will be needed if I go that route but oh my what a way to increase sales.

My wife ( a CPA ) is running some numbers and making some calls. I will need to be assured that thre is in fact, money to be made in this venture.

I will let you know progress as it happens. Be on the lookout for the thread titled "help me name my new HBS" !

LOL

Thanks for all the input.

Free samples for all the contibutors!

Cheers,

knewshound

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Old 06-28-2006, 03:17 PM   #16
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I'm still curious, though, that if you aren't giving up your job, and your wife's already employed full-time as a CPA, who's going to be running the store?

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Old 06-28-2006, 03:56 PM   #17
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Another thing you'll want to do, as far as marketing, is to aggressively court the local brew clubs, etc.

We have HBSs in Maryland that are waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere, but they survive because they have become the "Headquarters" for the regional clubs.

Play it like an upscale wine/liquor store: you have tastings, invite your customers to meet and greet there, invite the clubs to hold meetings there, etc. Maybe even sponsor a friendly contest yourself, where people enter brews made with your ingredients and post recipes for each other to look at.

Lots of options, but the previous poster was right: think Cigar Shop, or fancy Wine Shop. Think "Haven" for the hobbyists.

(In fact, when you think about it, ALL hobby shops must do this to survive. WHen I used to play Magic: The Gathering and such things, the suppliers would have crashed and burned without holding daily/weekly tourneys and open-play hours on premises).

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Old 06-28-2006, 04:27 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird
I'm still curious, though, that if you aren't giving up your job, and your wife's already employed full-time as a CPA, who's going to be running the store?

My two sons, who grew up brewing with me will be a start for the labor force (slave labor they call it), as well as myself and SWMBO. Also, the area has a huge number of homebrewers and I have a couple of college kids who are REALLY in to the hobby and have already asked about coming to work there. Thankfully, labor is one of the easier things to find, around here anyway.

I meant to address this in an earlier post, my aplogies for not mentioning it sooner.

Cheers,

knewshound
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