I recently spent three days in Santee, S.C., a town of 800 on Interstate 95 smack dab between New York City and Miami although it couldn’t be farther from either. I was there to write about the town for AAA’s Go Magazine that covers the Carolinas. (Interesting find: when one Googles “Go Magazine,” a lesbian magazine is the first result. Bet that would surprise a lot of people in AAA marketing department.)
I started to write this blog about three lessons I learned in Santee, but I realized three great lessons come from one place, The Oasis Bar and Grill on S.C. 6 in Santee.
Good business practice lesson one: Warmly, sincerely greet your customers. (Note: Yelling ‘welcome to Moe’s!’ loud enough to startle the interloper might have an opposite effect, but that’s another blog for another time.)
Details: My traveling partner and I spent WAY more time and money at the Oasis Bar and Grill than we planned simply because we were warmly welcomed by Sharon, a waitress there for five years. She truly seemed happy to see us. I’m always glad when someone is happy to see me. Makes me all warm inside. She introduced us to a few of the regulars around us and we felt like regulars in a matter of hours. (I said we spent too much time there, but I’d go back in a flash.)
Good business practice lesson two: Promote yourself and your products, even after your customers are in the door
Details: I noticed a well-written flyer on the bathroom door announcing upcoming events at The Oasis and it included some boilerplate touting the Oasis, like best bar in Santee, favorite destination from tourists, etc. It reinforced the feeling that I was smart for being so wise to detect a successful business from the highway. In short, it made me puff out my chest with pride for choosing well. Another flyer inside the bathroom reminded patrons of watching college football at the bar. One also got half off your first drink if you wore your team’s colors. Score in the marketing column! Another good idea: the screen saver for the cash register is a rolling list of cocktails and their ingredients. Customers seated at the bar might bend to the power of suggestion and break away from a draft beer.
Good business practice lesson three: Be bold, be clever, take a few small risks.
Details: Santee is home to a huge lake, so boating is a recurring theme throughout town. The Oasis beached a broken-down boat in the parking lot and guarded it with railroad ties. Was it meant just as a conversation piece, I asked owner Dennis Krauer? Nope. It’s protecting the septic tank beneath it. Good idea. The Oasis also built a half-acre outdoor bar area shieled by an 8-foot privacy fence for outdoor concerts or karoake. (Can there be too much karoake? Please, someone cry uncle!) It’s taking a while for the area to catch on, but Krauer’s sticking with it. A small risk that might pay off.