Ok, so back to this year's Christmas business experiences!!!
As part of our interstate holiday this year we all travelled to Halls Gap to see in the New Year.
For those of you who have never been to Halls Gap before, let me set the scene for you - it is a sleepy little town situated in The Grampians in Victoria, Australia and for the majority of the year it is a quiet place where bush walkers and campers go to "do their stuff".
Christmas time is a little different though - the population explodes with tourists from the city, interstate and overseas who visit the area to wander around the bushland and "get back to nature".
There are a number of shops, cafes and restaurants there who, for the most part, do a reasonable amount of trade, but during the "off season" things get fairly quiet there because your stereotypical bush walker is not an "ultimate consumer" and they tend to be self sufficient in things like food and other essentials while they are up there wandering around the countryside.
This, however, seriously changes at Christmas time - Halls Gap turns from a sleepy hollow of bushwalkers into a "buzzing hive" of activity with tourists who have pockets full of money - and are happy to spend it - while they are visiting the area.
Now, think about this in the context of running your own small business - for (lets say) 9 months of the year your business just choofs along at a reasonable pace and then for a three month period (between Christmas and Easter time each year) the number of customers increase by at least tenfold.
With this in mind, if you were running your own business in an area like this, would you be very focussed on being open as often as possible over this three month period?
Well, let me draw you a picture of what happened while we were at Halls Gap -
It's Sunday the 1st of January and there are hundreds - and I mean hundreds - of tourists wandering around the town enjoying themselves and around 7.00pm guess what happened?
All the shops start closing!!!
How do I know this? We wandered into town after deciding to get a coffee and there was nowhere open to get one!!!
That's not exactly true - we did find one place that was open and sold coffee, but when we asked if we could buy coffees from them (keep in mind that there were at least a dozen of us in the group) we got told that the coffee machine had been cleaned because they were closing up in 15 minutes so they were unable to sell us a coffee!!!
We all stood there looking at one another in amazement, then shrugged our shoulders and wandered back to our cabins to put the kettle on, make our own "cuppas" and grumble about the level of customer service in the township of Halls Gap.
If you run your own small business - and wonder why you can't increase your customer base - are you there when your customers expect you to be?
Food for thought ----