In this modern world, the contemporary small business person can tap into that, we can develop a boutique business that sells the customer experience alongside our products and services. Being boutique is a business model, one that sets itself apart from the hard-sell tactics that were common throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and noughties. If you love selling the experience and you want to set yourself apart in your business, this is the approach for you.
The foundation of the boutique business is in the details, the little things that you do. This can be from the clothes you wear to the business cards you use to the way you package your products and on to the little thank you notes you send when your transaction is complete. I remember shopping at Jo Malone when I started my business and I told the sales assistant that I was buying the candle for the launch – a couple of weeks later I received a handwritten card wishing me success with my opening night. I still shop with Jo Malone, even though their candles are expensive as a lot of my purchase is down to the little details!
Being boutique has so much to do with how you interact with your clients, how special you make them feel, how likeable you are to them (which often means how much you listen to them!) and how you give them the perception that you have allowed them into your ‘real’ life, just a little. The customers of a boutique business want to believe that the actions you take are specifically for them and their enjoyment. They want to feel special.
When you adopt a boutique business model you no longer need to compete on price because you have a USP that no-one else has – YOU! You are your own USP (unique selling point). You go the extra mile, you’re flexible about when you see your clients and where you meet them, and you deliver a personalised service.
Most importantly you don’t need to compete with those businesses that are price sensitive because you set yourself apart from the rest through the service ethic, the way in which you do business. The boutique business sells product, of course it does, but along with the product the boutique business sells an experience, of which the product is just one part.
Many people who set out as being boutique will give up this business model as it’s not an easy one to maintain – being boutique takes a lot of attention to detail, and it requires a lot of care and attention to clients. So if you’re the kind of person who gets irritated by a client asking something of you rather than accepting what you’ve put on the table, being boutique is not for you; if you find yourself discounting or competing on price, being boutique is not for you; if you are someone who isn’t interested in how someone feels about your business, again, being boutique is not for you.
But if you want to deliver something unique, if you love making people feel special, if you understand that the touch, the smell, the sound and the heart of what you do can impact on the customer experience then being boutique could well be the answer for building your successful business.