There are hundreds of small businesses in the Dexter and Chelsea area. Some of them may be places you and your family frequent, businesses that have been in Dexter for as long as you can remember. And some may be your go-to places instead of national chains.
AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong may stand behind a global brand, but he believes in the power of small businesses. In his recent interview with Patch Partners, a website connecting business owners to Patch in local communities, he offered his insight into what can set a small business above the rest of the competition.
Small businesses can hold a lot of power if they are intuitive with their customer base, Armstrong said.
“Small businesses can be nimble and can have intimate relationships with their customers. Knowing what their customers want is a very big advantage.”
Alisa Bauer of Vogel's & Fosters in Chelsea agrees.
"It's important in small towns to know who your customers are and what they are looking for," she said. "Being able to provide customers with a personalized experience is key to success."
Bauer said Vogel's & Fosters store associates collect customers' information to alert them of special sales throughout the year.
"In our case, when we develop a relationship with our customers, we can target different groups depending on what specific vendors will be at our trunk shows," she said.
Whitney Shoemaker of Whit's End hair studio in Dexter knows firsthand how important it is to develop relationships with customers.
"Talking with customers is very important. If you can't talk to your customers, they won't come back," she said. "No one likes to be around negative people."
Shoemaker said she is always working toward creating and maintaining a positive uplifting environment, connecting with customers, and expanding hair styling techniques and services.
"In our line of work, you really have to focus on the individual person to do a good job," she said.
Armstrong also noted that real success lies in what your business offers that the competitors do not.
“The advice I would give is the same advice I give myself—how do you create a differentiated and time-saving experience versus your competition? If a consumer cannot tell another consumer what unique benefit you offer, you might be missing an opportunity,” he said.
Ginny Nemchak, owner of Polly's Paper Studio in Dexter said her best advice for small business owners is "shameless self promotion."
"There's always ways to work your business into a conversation," she said. "Also if you promote other businesses with customers, those businesses will promote you. It's all about being a good neighbor."
Another way to support locally owned small businesses is to participate in American Express's Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. Last year, over 100 million people participated in this day dedicated to supporting small businesses.
There are more articles and interviews about small businesses on Patch Partners, where you can also sign up for the Patch Partners newsletter and Patch Partners Twitter feed to stay better informed, grow your small business and strengthen your community.
TELL US: If you are a small business owner, did you find this information useful? If you are a patron of small businesses, do you agree with this advice? What are your favorite local businesses, and why?