Make Your Business an Oasis in the Desert to Your Customers

Sep 12, 2013, Written by Sue Miley

An oasis in the desert….picture the desperate sunburned man stumbling through the sand, shirt tied around his head, lips swollen and cracking, and the last drops of hope seeping from his soul.  And then…..

an oasis appears.

With the hectic pace of life and business we all need an oasis.  Whether it is precious moments stolen to strum your guitar, or a quiet place to pen your journal, we crave these stolen minutes.

We don’t even realize the need until we arrive.

As I sit this morning on a weathered wooden chair, fans slightly turning, a soft mellow rock tune in the background, breathing in the familiar aroma of beans brewing and muffins just baked, I recognize one of these moments.  A much needed oasis, or rather haven, from a crowded, hurried, and noisy world.

It is very infrequent these days to find what I call a real coffee house.  One where all of the mismatched furniture matches perfectly.  Coffee bean varietals line the walls.  Baristas engage in quiet sincere greetings, actually pausing a moment to make eye contact as they say “good morning”.

It isn’t that they aren’t busy.  They are.  It is a Saturday morning at 7am and regulars and visitors like myself create a constant stream. It just has it’s own rhythm.  The peaceful flow of a country stream.  Consistent yet calm.

Birmingham regulars probably know where I am just from the description.  O’Henry’s is voted best coffee house in town.  I know why.  Some people pick the hotel they stay at due to a variety of different features.  I pick the one I am at because it is down the street from O’Henry’s.

What business lessons can we learn from them this morning?

Business needs a personality. 

The personality is received through our senses.  In the case of a coffee house, it is the chairs we sit on, the rich aromas we take in, the sounds we hear, a tapestry of voices, instruments strumming, beans grinding and coins being returned.  When all of our senses are engaged, a whole personality is enjoyed.  This place is a calm, friendly, and hospitable place.

Business has a personality.  Whether it is a bricks and mortar location or even just an online presence, it communicates it’s personality.

What personality does your business have?  Is the environment one that you wanted to achieve?  Does it appropriately serve the community and the customer?

Business needs a flow.

As I mentioned, the coffee house is busy.  Now that I am an hour into this visit, the seats are filling up and customers are still streaming through.  But the feel of the environment hasn’t changed much.  Well a little, but it may be that I have had some coffee now, and am sort of awake.

The difference is a little more cheer in the greetings, a little more chatter amongst the other guests.  But it still feels like a haven.

To create and maintain a business flow that keeps your business personality intact, but is also highly efficient can be an art and a challenge.

To do this O’Henry’s has an order to their line.  Duties are split up among the team behind the counter to keep the line flowing.  And apparently, their team is trained.  A trained staff can make every process seam smooth.

Business needs a point of difference.

With coffee houses going mainstream and chains outnumbering the individual locally owned locations, it is hard to distinguish one coffee house from another.

We see this in restaurants, computers, and many other goods and services.

Yet, what stands out through all of the noise in the market place.

The different…dare to be different if you want to succeed.

Regardless of the type of business, in its subset, all business can be a haven.  If you are passionate about your business and can create the experience that matches your ideal client, it will feel like a haven to them.

Dealing with a business that loves what they do and has it down to an efficient rhythm and flow truly feels like an oasis in a desert!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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