Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Thursday, December 31, 2009

It Cost Too Much!! I bought it at the Box Store!

When I was at my brother's for Christmas, my nephew told me that he had purchased his finacee's engagement ring from a small, independent jeweler located in the college town the university from which they both graduated was located.

My nephew told me that he got a "good deal" on the engagement ring, because "He had a friend who worked in the store and knew diamonds". I complemented him on his astute purchasing skills, using a friend working in an independent business. However, the next statement he gave me cause for concern. When I asked where they bought the groom's ring, he said, "At the Big Box Store-- it was cheaper than the wholesale price my buddy could get it for at the independent jeweler".

Now, I wondered, how could this happen? How did the small, independent jeweler lose a sale because "it was cheaper at the Big Box Store?"

One cannot fault, and I certainly do not fault the young man for wanting to stretch his meager resources as far as they will go. We all want to do this. After all, he is going to be a newly wed with big college debts to pay. However, how could an independent business owner allow a sale to slip to the Big Box Store?

My brain went into afterburner--- had the small independent jeweler not explained why his prices were higher? What about the quality of the product at the Big Box Store? Who is going to be there when there is a problem with the groom's ring? Is the Big Box Store going to have a repair department if there is a problem or sizing issue? Now, one could argue that not much can go wrong with a groom's ring, especially if there are no diamonds in the ring!

This is a case of where the value of the independent jeweler, or for that matter, any independent small business, lost a sale because they failed to explain the VALUE that the small business provides to the customer. Value is measured in many different forms-- price being only one form. However, quality of product, integrity of the vendor, name brand merchandise, customer service and reputation of the independent business are all other factors to consider as well when purchasing any product in which an independent business owner competes with a Big Box Store.

My good friend, Chris Montague of Montague's Jewelers ( told me, "Service, value and quality, above all else, are where locally-owned businesses shine. They have the knowledge, passion, community commitment and expertise that the national chains, on-line sellers and 'Big Box' Stores simply can't match. In this specific example, during a ring's life folks will always do better going to a locally owned professional. Another critically important point to remember, for every $100 spent at a national chain only $42 stays in the local economy. The numbers for on-line sellers are much worse. Contrast that with a locally owned business, and $72 out of every $100 spent stays local. This along with many other factors is an important distinction, and one we need to explain better to our clients."

Make sure that your customer knows the VALUE that your business provides each and every day to their clients. Remember, value comes in many forms--price is only one. Price is important, however, service, quality and selection are also important. A good product that lasts a long time, is well built and provides many years of service is better than a cheaper, poorly made product that will wear out faster and ultimately cost more than a good product in the beginning.

Insure that all of your employees know the VALUE of all your products! This is a point that cannot be over emphasized each day and each week in staff meeting. Make sure that employees understand why your product is better, albeit more expensive, than the box store. This is a sales objection that is easy to overcome with facts-- make sure that your employees have all of the facts.

Customers that recognize the VALUE of the product or service that you provide will continue to return to shop with you! Make sure that you emphasize the value your business provides!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Forgot!

I stayed at a nice Resort the other nite on my way to visit my brother and his family for Christmas!  This resort is a nationally known facility, with a high class reputation for food, service and ambiance.

A fire was burning in the fireplace, I sat down and ordered a liquid beverage.  20 minutes later, the waitress came over and said, "I forgot what you wanted.  What did you order?"

I told her what I ordered and began to wait another 20 minutes before she came back and served the beverage.  Now, I had a parched throat, was tired and thirsty-- needless to say, I was ready for another beverage shortly after the first one arrived! 

Well, you guessed it-- another 20 minutes lapsed before she came around again and asked if I wanted another beverage!  Interestingly, there was a couple sitting on the side of the fireplace who just started to laugh about this little snag!  I asked what was so funny, interested in knowing what they knew that I did not.

They said that they have had the same experience every time they stay at this resort,  always a different waitress, however, always the same result-- a long wait and no chance to order any food.  They cracked the code-- they bring their own beverages from their room and don't worry about the waitress.

I got to thinking---um, what is the problem here?  Well, I think it is obvious---- management was not watching the floor and seeing what was happening!  My new friends and I did discuss that perhaps the resort had a staff training issue-- perhaps, the waitress was not trained properly, perhaps she had more tables to be responsible for than she could handle (staffing issue).

The one thing that was clear was that sales were being lost because I was never asked about food or anything else.  The other guests were not asked if they wanted something to eat or drink either.  More money lost for the resort.

Remember, sales are what make the cash register ring!  At the end of the day-- it is all about the cash register ringing!

Take a look at your business. 

How much money are you loosing every day by not paying attention to your customers? 
Do you watch your staff make the sale?
Does the staff have the training  and tools necessary to be most productive employee?
Has the employee been trained "your way"?  Your procedures may be different than what the employee did before.  Make sure that the employee understands and knows how you want things accomplished.
Do you encourage your staff to fully address all of the customer needs?  If I am thirsty, I am probably hungry as well?
Are all staff members encouraged to continually ask members if their needs are being addressed by a staff member?

Customer service is the key to more sales-- don't let a staff member "Forget" to fulfill a customer request.  The customer may walk and never be back! 

We want customers to continue to come back and buy more product-- what ever that might be!