TAT Chat: Sorry, folks. We’re closed!

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We may not be small business owners or social media gurus to know the challenges involved in owning a small business, but we have embraced the power of Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, in addition to web pages, to help guide us on our journeys and adventures.

We find value in being on our smart phones while traveling from location to location to check address, hours of operations, product lineup and other tidbits of information to direct us on our way.  So, when we were recently on one of our many winery/brewery hopping excursions and decided we had time for one more visit, we did what we always do. We checked social media.

We learned a very valuable lesson on this Saturday afternoon and that was to go old school and call before arriving. Why, you ask? Because we drove 30-minutes out of our way, or an hour roundtrip, to be welcomed by a “Closed” sign on the door at our last stop that fateful evening. We felt like Clark and Ellen Griswold when they ran through the parking lot at Walley World to be welcomed by the “closed” moose sign.

How can this be? We checked all the social media outlets for this winery, and each one said they were open until 6 p.m. We checked the time on our phones – it was only 4:30 p.m. Did we have the wrong day? We sat down on one of the outside picnic tables, envisioning us enjoying a glass of wine following our tasting that was now only a figment of our angered imagination. In fact, the last Facebook post, from two weeks prior, stated they would be closed that next weekend but not this weekend. We looked in the windows and sure enough, the lights were out and nobody was home!

Sadly, that was not the first time this has happened to us. Just a couple weeks prior, on a journey through Ohio’s heartland, we decided to check and see if there were any wineries in the vicinity we could stop at and add to our winery obsession. Lo and behold, we found one only 20-minutes off our route back home. We, once again, checked social media and they were indeed open. We turned off the state road we were traveling on to zip down more windy, country terrain, avoiding flooded roads and suicidal squirrels – turning left and right down abandoned farmland until we finally came upon the large sign welcoming us to a new Ohio winery – and then we saw it – the dreadful word … CLOSED!  What? But, we checked all our social media! So, we called and to our surprise, we were welcomed by a voice recording, but with a message referencing dates from end of last year. Did they close and not tell their web page or social media followers?

We understand at times unforeseen circumstances may arise and we are sensitive to those situations. However, when it takes no longer than 5 minutes to hang that Closed sign, it should take just as much time, if not less, to inform your patrons on social media.

For what it’s worth, our bit of advice from a couple of patrons and bloggers: take that five extra minutes out of your day to simply update your social media! Another gripe is if you are open to the public that day, please remember if you have a phone number connected to your business – keep it handy and answer it when you hear it ring.

On another afternoon, we decided to make a trek out to a winery about an hour away from us, but weren’t sure if they were opened on a Sunday. The winery’s Facebook page said they were open, but you just never know with newer locations. We decided to be smart this time and call to make sure. The first call to the winery went through. Ring. Ring. Ring. Then directly to voice mail. Nothing on hours of the winery. We ended up trying a total of 6 different times in the course of 30 minutes to no avail.

In the long run, we got in touch with the winery via Facebook. But you never know when you are getting that new customer who can promote you, or buy several cases of wine … so answer your phone. That potential customer is yours to lose. Not being open when you say you are, not updating hours, and not answering your phone can cost you money, and potential patrons, who can be with your for years to come.