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Behind Review host and Yelp small business expert Emily Washcovick shares a sneak peek from this week’s podcast episode.
At first glance, Duran Central Pharmacy in Albuquerque, New Mexico looks like your average pharmacy with over-the-counter medications and pharmacists ready to fill your prescriptions. But walk to the back of the building and you’ll quickly find that Duran’s is so much more than meets the eye. You’ll first pass by a gift shop, filled with an assortment of kitschy items curated by their staff, from vintage candies and funky kitchen gadgets to southwestern books. Keep going and you’ll find yourself in the third branch of the business: a quintessentially New Mexican restaurant born out of the pharmacy’s soda fountain in its early days, now a full-service restaurant that offers an iconic Southwestern menu. for over 50 years. years.
Packing a 3-to-1 punch, Duran’s attracts both locals and tourists alike, but one of the things that keeps everyone coming back is its dedication to what works. While it’s common for restaurants to update their menus, Duran’s has become a legendary destination by making absolutely no menu changes since 1965.
“New Mexicans are very eccentric. We land on New Mexican fare that we love, and we swear by it. And whoever it is, that’s the ‘right’ way to do it,” said Duran’s owner, Mona Ghattas, who has worked at Duran since she was a toddler when her father ran the business.
“We have a large clientele of locals, and they never stray from the menu. All my servers know the locals by what they order. Huevos rancheros easier, green with a touch of red. Anyway , they know them by their order, not so much by their name.”
While the menu has remained constant over the years, Duran’s has evolved in other ways, focusing on things customers expect to see updated and new.
“When I took over, I realized we were really falling apart,” Mona said. “I wanted to keep the flavor of Duran’s. I wanted to keep the front end, but I wanted to update and brand it. We started looking for more exciting products and narrowed our drugstore offerings to more apothecary, boutique type pharmacy offerings.”
Listening to what her customers wanted helped Mona usher Duran’s into a new era of profitability. A strong believer in supporting her community, Mona particularly felt the impact of having a tight-knit support network during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Duran had to go take-out. Navigating this new business model proved difficult, but since Duran’s had always listened to and supported the community, including other local businesses, its customers were more than happy to return the favor and help the restaurant survive. in uncertain times.
“When you shop locally, more money stays in the community, so I think it’s very, very important to support local businesses,” Mona said. “I don’t see other local businesses as my competition. I feel like they are collaborators, and I try to promote other local businesses as much as possible. Because if they’re strong, then I’m going to be strong, and our community is going to be strong.”
In terms of customers supporting businesses, we typically think of the traditional buying process, but there’s another great way for customers to help businesses they care about. Nicole O., Yelp reviewer and Duran customer, writes online reviews specifically to support small businesses in her community and those she visits, citing the power and usefulness of reviews for both business and other customers. As an avid traveler, she relies on Yelp reviews to help her navigate new cities and find the best meals for her taste.
“We really don’t want to spend our money on places that aren’t worth it,” Nicole said. “I rely on reviews a lot, especially when I travel. If you don’t know someone and you’re not going to a place, state, country, or even another side of town you’re already come on, you’re just throwing spaghetti against the wall hoping it sticks.
“In an era of high inflation and the dollar needing to stretch, you really don’t want to leave disappointed. So whether I leave excited after an experience or disappointed after an experience, I try to leave a review. For me, criticism is not just a service for myself or for the company, but for others.”
All small business owners know the pain of a bad review, as well as the joy of a great review. Mona understands that most reviewers are sincerely trying to help a business grow, and she wants to make sure she’s addressing their concerns, whether it’s responding online or communicating in person.
“I always try to look for the positive. I’m a small business owner and I know what it’s like. We don’t get it every time. We try really hard. But if you have a real beef about something, call the person,” Mona suggests. “Many times we’ve had criticism and I’ve been like, ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t meet your expectations. Call me. Let’s talk about it.’
This personal touch resonates with Duran’s customers, including Nicole, who appreciates both the quality of the food and the special New Mexican touches on the menu. During her last pregnancy, she suffered from extreme morning sickness, but found she could avoid Duran’s bean and cheese burrito.
“One of the things that brings you back as a New Mexican to New Mexico is our food. Our food is an integral part of our culture. It’s a part of who we are. When you walk into a place that smells It brings It brings you back to love It brings you back to wholeness It opens your heart And in this case it makes you drool And I know it’s gonna hit the spot, and it doesn’t bother me. never missed.”
Duran’s has been in business for over 80 years, a success made possible by:
- Integrate into the community. Viewing other small businesses as collaborators rather than competitors can uplift the entire local community and economy. It also builds goodwill for your business in times of difficulty.
- See online reviews as a benefit. Negative reviews can be a springboard for improvement. Reviewers who draw attention to shortcomings they have found in your business often care about your success. Reaching out for clarification on their feedback can help build customer loyalty and improve the customer experience.
- To be coherent. When you come across a good thing, don’t change it for the change. Sometimes success comes from what people expect and like from your business.
- Evolve in a way that makes sense. Preserve what makes you unique, but continue to innovate in other areas to improve the customer experience. Updating decor or additional offerings can allow you to move the business forward without losing your original charm.
Listen to the episode below to hear Mona and Nicole live, and subscribe to Behind the review to hear about new business owners and reviews every Thursday.
Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud