I love bourbon.

Not in the Mad Men way, but in the regular-glass-of-great-bourbon kind of way. I find bourbon as interesting as great wine. A good bourbon will release wonderfully complex flavors when water is added, and sometimes it’s just great alone in a glass.

I follow a blog and website from Holy City Handcraft, out of Charleston, SC (http://holycityhandcraft.com), and I reached out to them via Facebook message before taking a recent trip to Charleston to ask where I could find a great Old Fashioned or Manhattan. The blogger quickly responded with a long list of places to try and recommendations for restaurants as well. I was so impressed with the timely response, but that isn’t the point of this blog post. He recommended this place to me called The Gin Joint (www.theginjoint.com). Some of you may have already checked this place but it was new to Meghan and me. What sold me was this comment from his message:

"As far as cocktails go, I would suggest The Gin Joint for their Old Fashioneds/Manhattans. They’re the only place in town that hand-cuts their own ice, they take their cocktails pretty seriously."

Wow…who are you telling? Hand-cut ice? I had never thought of such a thing! But my first thought was, not only do they take their cocktails seriously, but they take the customer experience pretty seriously too. As service and solution providers for small family-owned businesses and start-ups, we fight with perception about what we actually do. Do we only prepare taxes? Do we only do accounting? Do we also do payroll? Do we offer “business advisory services?” What the heck is that?

The Gin Joint is obviously a bar, and they serve food as well. But they are also a place for the customer to experience, maybe for the first time ever, the care and time it takes to hand-cut ice to make the perfect drink. All I thought while I drank my awesome Old Fashioned was “This drink was made with something extra. There is an experience here, and it makes my drink taste EVEN better, if that’s possible.” I waited probably 10-12 minutes for my drink, but it was so worth it. And the next time I visit Charleston, you can bet I’ll go back to The Gin Joint.

I think as service businesses, we have to find and continually provide a “hand-cut ice” experience to our customers and clients. You never want to become comfortable and too familiar, because you can be replaced. You will never be replaced if you make your customers feel the kind of experience that “hand-cut ice” provides. For those that appreciate a unique customer experience, you’ll be a rock star.

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