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I spent last week in Gatlinburg again on a part business / part pleasure trip. On the business side, I had a very important meeting on Wednesday. For some reason, I neglected to get a haircut the week before leaving for the trip and found myself looking overly shaggy – not the look I wanted for my meeting. No big deal, though, because there are hair cutters everywhere, right?

So I did what what EVERYBODY does these days – asked my phone where the nearest hair salon was.

I use an iPhone, so Siri showed me the location of a hair salon fairly nearby – not walking distance from the hotel, but a short drive, followed by a short walk. I called the number to make sure they were open and that they cut men’s hair, both yes and yes.

The plan was all coming together.

I hopped in my car and drove toward my destination. It was a tricky address, because it was a suite tucked away in this multi-story outdoor mall kind of deal. Luckily, I saw a sign for it in a window in the building. So then I just had to find parking.

I pulled into the nearest parking lot…which turned out to be closed. There was no sign saying it was closed, but the gate would not open and then I noticed it looked abandoned. This was highly inconvenient because I then had to back out onto a busy street. I finally saw enough of a crack in the flow of traffic to make a very aggressive reverse maneuver to get back out on the street.

Now I just needed to find another parking lot. There was a parking garage down the street that would leave me with more of a walk, but no big deal. If you’ve ever visited downtown Gatlinburg, you know there is a lot of walking involved (as is the case with most tourist towns).

I pulled into the parking garage, found a spot and started the hike through the cold morning air down to the location of the hair salon.

When I finally arrived at the building where the salon was…supposedly…located, I walked up and down stairs and all around looking for it. Then I noticed the sign for the shop…in an abandoned location!

I called the salon and asked where they were located. I could barely hear what she was saying over the noise of traffic passing by. I thought I made out just enough to have a vague, general idea, then I checked my phone to see how far it was. It was about a half mile. I set off in that direction, but after about one-tenth of a mile I decided that it just wasn’t worth it because I still wasn’t even sure if I was going to the right place.

So I turned back toward the parking garage in disgust and COULD NOT WAIT TO WRITE THIS ARTICLE because I was so damn mad at having my time wasted. After cooling down, I decided not to call out the name of the business and instead just use this as a teaching moment.

Obviously, the lesson is this:


If you’re a service business that people rarely visit in person, like mine, then it’s not as big a deal. But if you are a brick and mortar business that relies on people coming to your location, then this is absolutely critical. If you don’t, then you are going to piss off potential customers and do damage to your business reputation.

It’s not just marketing – it’s courtesy. These days, people are absolutely going to be using their phone to find your business. Don’t have them running around in circles. If you don’t know how to do it, just Google it or pay somebody like me to do it.

By the way, I did get a haircut…somewhere else.

And one more thing: if you move your business, take your damn sign with you!