Lisa Douglas: Poor customer service in Steamboat Springs
November 14, 2010
Steamboat Springs — As a small-business owner in Steamboat, my clients mention, almost daily, the extreme lack of customer service that is given from many other businesses here.
My family relocated here seven years ago, for the same reason as so many others have: the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. I opened my business more than four years ago after starting out within another business, which I would be glad to have stayed with, but the poor business policies forced me out on my own.
Personally, when the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 40 put stress on other local businesses, I tried to patronize at least one during each of my business days. My No. 1 gripe is the pure lack of courtesy I've seen and heard about. When anyone walks into a business, they ought to be greeted. A friendly comment helps to ensure what they've, no doubt, heard regarding Steamboat's friendliness. Most people may not need your assistance and might be simply "kicking tires" but asking may also win you a sale. Many employees and, yes, even owners don't even acknowledge that you entered (that's when I exit).
Two years ago, our daughter went into a local business on Lincoln Avenue and later told me that they didn't acknowledge her … even as she made her way from front to back, and then she left and told me she will never go back and urged me not to. At that time, she was 23 with a good, well-paying job, so there should have been no excuse for not assuming she might make a purchase.
My past experience involves years in retail, including most facets thereof. Back then, I was trained to think that each person entering probably carried $20 with them. Now, while inflation has played a part in costs of goods and what a dollar will buy, I think retailers should assume that each person "could" possibly make a purchase and be treated with that in mind.
Unfortunately, "old Steamboat" locals aren't very accepting of newcomers and the change they bring to "their" town and mountain.
Suffice to say, it cannot be both ways, in that, you cannot have inflated housing prices (for which many folks benefited) growing and thriving business, and world-class ski teams and ski mountain, without "us." Change can be good and should be embraced. That being said, the town still feels stable and family-friendly, I think, because of the many ranches and families who own homes here and know that this is such a special place to raise children. While it is difficult for young families to afford living here, they seem, to me, to be the grounding force.
Be not afraid of positive change … embrace it and work with it.
■ Show up (even if it means, dare I say it, missing yet another powder day)
■ Be helpful and cheerful
■ Say thank you
■ Try being grateful even if they walk out without purchasing … they may buy at a competitor, but the money will trickle down
In this economy, we need mainstreet Steamboat to reiterate this to any and all local businesses as much as they recruit people to come spend. Make it a spend-friendly environment and maybe the Internet will not be the only method of choice.