If You Went Away for a Month, Would Your Customers Come Back?

It’s a provocative question, isn’t it? If you paused your business for a whole month, would your customers find somewhere else to go or would they hold out and wait for you? Does it depend on what you’re selling? For example, if you’re an accountant, would your clients wait out those 30 days or would they find someone else? What if you’re a doctor? What if you run a bagel shop?

And if people did go somewhere else for those 30 days, do you think they’d eventually come back to you? Are you that confident in what you give to your customers — I’m not talking the specific product or service, but what you GIVE them — that you know they’d come back because what you “give,” they can’t get anywhere else?

Intriguing, right? And you probably think it’s just a hypothetical. But that’s exactly what my favorite bagel shop in my hometown did this summer. It took the month of July off.

I’m a semi-regular customer. I go through bagel-craving spurts, so I might go a month or two (max) without a visit. Well, I showed up at the end of June one day, craving a bagel, only to be greeted by a handmade sign saying they were closed until late July. I actually had to read the note twice. We were talking a whole month. Whoa, I thought. That’s not going to be good for business. I went somewhere else for my bagel (it wasn’t as good) and filed away that Cafe Bagel was off limits until the end of July.

Well, guess what? I went back. Numerous times. And so did everyone else, it seems, given the full parking lot and the regulars (I know they’re regulars because the owner often greets people by name).

I don’t know if the owner simply “had” to go, business be damned (he told me he’d gone to visit his mother in Egypt, which is where he’s from), or if he simply assumed that because he makes the best bagels in town, the people would come back.

But it makes for an interesting challenge, doesn’t it? If you went away for a month, would your customers remember to come back? Or would they move on for good? If you think they might move on, what can you do to change the way you do business to ensure that they don’t?

Go do it.