Fostering a Following

Organizations & People

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”
– Albert Einstein

 

Business Owners on Cultivating a Community of Customers

For any business that has achieved a faithful following, it all began with first-time customers who decided to return. Here, local businesses reflect on how they have created and grown a thriving fan base and offer insight on cultivating a community of customers.

rice

Mad Priest Coffee Roasters

Michael Rice, Owner

A small-batch coffee roaster and retailer, Mad Priest Coffee Roasters has fostered a community characterized by quality coffee and conversation.

Q: What creates a repeat customer?

A: Quality and consistency are certainly the driving forces for high retention and repeat customers, but we go a layer deeper. We invite customers to participate in our endeavors of learning and growth. We all evolve, as well as our businesses, and we don’t shy away from sharing that evolution as well as offering transparency of it along the way – and because of this, people feel they are a part of the story.

Q: What are some ways a business can effectively create and nurture a dedicated following?

A: Consistency. Clear and direct communication. Playfulness. Customer engagement and involving them in fun social media experiments, or even including them in the decision-making process of something you’re thinking about doing, like a new merch idea.

Q: Which aspects of your business do you believe drive the dedication of your following?

A: The consistency and quality of our product, our dedication to radical transparency, and our excellent customer service, particularly how we handle or respond to issues.

Q: How does your business intentionally engage with this community of customers?

A: We consistently engage in emails and social media campaigns. We host events. We produce education. And honestly, we are simply responsive. Whether it’s emails or Google reviews, we engage. I think that is a crucial part of growing a brand and learning your audience.

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byrd

Chattanooga Football Club

Alton Byrd, CEO

The professional soccer team Chattanooga Football Club (CFC) has become an integral part of the city’s sports scene and is cheered on by thousands of loyal fans each year.

Q: How would you describe your customer base?

A: Our customer base is diverse and multicultural and has increased and evolved over 15 years. The majority of our fan base is families who enjoy being outdoors and also enjoy sports and entertainment. We have been sustainable over many years due to our fans seeing our club as an important piece of their lives.

Q: What creates a repeat customer?

A: Our customer service, focused attention on customer experiences, affordable tickets, accessible players and staff, and lots of family friendly in-stadium entertainment.

Q: What are some ways your business has effectively created and nurtured a dedicated following?

A: Affordable pricing, easy purchasing options and processes, and great benefits for being a season ticket holder. Groups can find unique fan experiences at CFC matches. We are also heavily engaged with the community in the Chattanooga region. We offer solutions for parents and friends looking for really good entertainment in Chattanooga and solve the “what can we do as a family?” question by providing great food and fun for all the family.

Q: How does your business intentionally engage with this community of customers?

A: We invest in education, health and wellness, and community involvement consistently. We also engage through great storytelling and through authentic connections with both consumers and businesses.

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crimmins

McLemore

Conley Crimmins, Director of Resort Marketing

A luxurious golf resort located atop Lookout Mountain, McLemore has cultivated a community of residents, members, and guests alike.

Q: What creates a repeat customer?

A: Our level of service is what we are most proud of. The staff at McLemore works really hard to make each guest feel special and taken care of during their stay and that has created a really strong and loyal customer base.

Q: What are some ways a business can effectively create and nurture a dedicated following?

A: Be original. The content McLemore creates and distributes, whether an ad or organic, comes from a dedicated team of creators that share in McLemore’s vision. We do our best to remain true to the physical place, highlighting its beauty and creating interest and intrigue that may capture someone’s attention. We remain true to our brand standards and create authentic, beautiful stories for people to enjoy.

Q: Which aspects of your business do you believe drive the dedication of your following?

A: We remain committed to delivering an ‘Above the Clouds’ experience, as we call it. This means we aim to provide an exceptional experience from check in, to on the course, and after your round or stay. We care how the guests feel after spending time at McLemore. Much of our dedication to that experience can be seen in the quality and management of the course, attention to guest needs and detail, quality of dining options, and new experiences curated to engage and entertain guests.

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squareone holdings

STIR

SquareOne Holdings Executive Team

STIR attracts locals and tourists alike to its prime location at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and has seen a group of dedicated diners regularly return.

Q: What creates a repeat customer?

A: A great guest experience. Our mission at STIR is ‘every guest, every time,’ and we try to create an unmatched dining experience through a combination of made-from-scratch food, craft cocktails, artisanal ice, an expansive oyster and raw seafood bar with a vibrant atmosphere, and outstanding customer service.

Q: What signaled that your business had successfully achieved a following?

A: A combination of increased, consistent foot traffic, the popularity of our dishes and cocktails with our customer base, consistent positive online reviews, and a repeat customer base that our team at STIR has built ongoing relationships with.

Q: What are some ways a business can effectively
create and nurture a dedicated following?

A: Every guest, every time. Putting the guest first and providing a consistently good experience for them when they walk through the door.

Q: How does your business intentionally engage with this community of customers?

A: Our STIR management team is on the dining room floor and actively engages with customers while they are in our store. We also launch programmed events such as distillery dinners that bring customers back in for a new experience, our specials program that guests look forward to each month, as well as engagement through social media and direct email communication.

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chris wood & douglas lee

Be Caffeinated

Chris Wood & Douglas Lee, Owners

A convenient coffee shop with drive-thru locations across Chattanooga, Be Caffeinated has become a go-to spot for locals looking for a cup of coffee and more.

Q: What creates a repeat customer?

A: We focus on providing the best experience we can for the customer in a quick interaction in the drive-thru, as well as a great cup of coffee or pastry. We only use high quality, local goods, and bake a lot of our own pastries and roast our own coffee through our sister companies, Morning Bee Bakery & Bagelry and New Wave Coffee. Being quick, effective, and delicious puts us in a great spot in the eyes of our customers.

Q: Which aspects of your business do you believe drive the dedication of your following?

A: We are incredibly invested in our local ecosystem, both by supporting nonprofits through our Giveback Program, small businesses through collaborations and networking, and creatives through partnerships with groups like Walnut Street Publishing and Be The Change Youth Initiative. This makes our customers feel better about spending money with us, as it does not just get them coffee but lets them support local.

Q: How does your business intentionally engage with this community of customers?

A: We are very active on Instagram and Facebook, and we have a lot of fun with limited menus, creative events, and catering for local events as well. We make sure to listen to our customers when they have constructive feedback and try to move forward and not stagnate when possible. We also reshare user-generated content, show up to local events and support them, and allow our spaces to be used for things other than coffee!

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jennifer holder

The Chattery

Jennifer Holder, Co-Founder & Operations Di

rector

The Chattery creates space for adults to learn new hobbies and skills through fun and accessible classes and has grown a following of lifelong learners.

Q: What creates a repeat customer?

A: Offering quality programming and listening to the needs of our students helps us connect with them and ensure they come back for more. Additionally, our vast array of class options not only caters to diverse interests but also presents a unique and valuable opportunity for continuous learning.

Q: What are some ways a business can effectively
create and nurture a dedicated following?

A: Creating a true community doesn’t happen overnight. We listen to our attendees through direct feedback and online surveys, but we also try to engage in other ways. Every single person who comes through our classes, whether they were brought by a friend or sought us out on their own, is part of the fabric of our community. We want every participant to feel included, heard, and accepted.

Q: Which aspects of your business do you believe drive the dedication of your following?

A: We exist for any adult seeking a platform to learn, connect, and grow alongside like-minded individuals. The inclusivity of our approach ensures that our services resonate with the entire community. Equally important is our commitment to actively listening to our community. We value and consider feedback on various aspects such as class timings, pricing structures, and the quality of our offerings. We also highly value our local and unique teachers, who bring so much to our organization.

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