Time Is An Illusion

Time Is An Illusion

Picture if you will: it’s Sunday evening, Mother’s Day, and the younger daughter is showing off her cooking skills with an amazing meal of The Beloved’s choosing.  Naturally, I pitch in at my appropriate skill level: doing the washing-up.  And then I see the problem: we’re out of dish-washing detergent.  It’s after 6pm, and I know the local supermarket is likely to be closed, so I figure I’ll stack and finish it tomorrow.  But no!  The Beloved checks with Google, and it lists the opening hours as 8:30am to 6:30pm.  Excellent!  I throw on my jumper, race down to the shops, and… they’re closed.

What happened?  It’s actually pretty simple, as I discussed with the proprietor of the local takeaway five minutes later when I popped in to see if they had any detergent.  It seems that some businesses don’t keep their Google Business Profiles updated.

Google Business Profile is a free service that exists to answer questions for normal people like you and me — and to make money for Google through the optional advertising, as always.  Businesses are encouraged to fill in all their details: address, hours, contact details, photos and even reviews, and when you or I do a google search we have up-to-date information at our fingertips.  In theory!

The local take-away is brilliant at this.  Not only are the hours up to date, but they’ve uploaded countless photos of the inside and outside, the food and drink, the facilities, the staff and even a menu.  If you look for them, you’ll find all the info you need.  It’s a skilled use of free resources!  And they keep their Facebook up to date too, which is whole other avenue of communication.  They know what they’re doing, and they do it well.

In contrast, the supermarket is a lot less present on the internet.  A couple of photos on the profile (the rest are of the nearby sights) and the summer-time hours still visible front and centre.  If I’d clicked through to the franchiser website I’d have seen the updated hours, but that’s an extra click that most people don’t bother with.

What’s the difference between these two businesses? You might want to say “one of them is better at doing business”, but that’s not the case at all.  Both the supermarket and the takeaway are focused on providing a service to their local community and have done so for many years.  If you want to criticise them, you’d better show a very large stack of tax returns or I’ll tell you to pull your head in!  No, I think the difference is all in the part of the business that isn’t the business.

A business guru named Ernesto Sirolli said that every business has to have three aspects: the product, the marketing and the financials.  If you’re an expert at making widgets, say, you can try to make a living out of widget-making and you’ll go nowhere unless you have someone looking after your money and someone looking after your publicity.  And they do generally have to be other people: the world’s greatest expert in widget-making who knows nothing of tax law or search engines won’t sell a hundredth as much as a clumsy amateur with one friend who can do marketing and one who can keep the books.  Our local takeaway is a success because of their ability to communicate — along with their pizzas, which are divine.  The supermarket, in contrast, is a success despite the trouble they sometimes have getting the message out.

The solution is pretty simple. All it would take is a moment’s conversation between the shop owner and any of his friends or relatives who know their way around the internet.  He doesn’t have to do it himself, and honestly it’s better if he doesn’t, because running a business is his business, and he already knows when to delegate the details to people he trusts. His trusty internet expert can connect to his Google Business Profile and change those details easily.  But they’ll have to do it again at the end of winter hours, and again next year, and so on for as long as he wants to stay in business.

If you find your own business in a similar pickle, Huon Computer Solutions will be happy to help.  What’s that, you say? You want to come around every time there’s a change and charge us a fee?  Oh dear me, no!  On the “teach a man to fish” principle, our trick is to show you how to make the changes yourself, or train up that internet-savvy friend or relative, so that you get the skills you need without having to pay for it every time.  Seems like a funny way to do business, but our experience is that happy customers keep coming back, so it works for us.  Give us a call or send an email and we’ll get you sorted.  Just give me a moment to get the dishes washed first, ok?