It’s a funny thing. Business owners all over the country tell me that their town is different. That the only thing their customers care about is price. Perhaps you often find yourself thinking the same thing. But hold the cell phone. While you could spend a lot of time chasing around trying to beat everyone’s price, there may be a few other things you can do to improve your sales and bottom line.
This past weekend I put down the laptop and picked up a paintbrush. For some inexplicable reason our garage door has been slowly acquiring a patina of rust for the past few years (my wife says at least 7). A few weeks ago I said enough was enough and on Sunday I took action with a quick trip over to my local ACE Hardware to pick up oil based primer, paint and roller brushes.
Painting gives one plenty of time to contemplate the big questions such as “Why?” Not why was I finally painting the garage door but why I always go to ACE Hardware. Having tested several hypotheses, I believe it boils down to the relationship between “Time, Money and the store’s PEF (Personal Experience Factor).”
The ACE store is marginally closer to my home than the True Value store and equidistant to K-Mart where I’m told I can also find paint. There’s a Home Depot and Menards in town where prices would seem to be lower than at ACE. But in my world of weekend home improvement projects price barely registers as a motivator.
Despite massive amounts of print, television and radio sale advertising by Home Depot and Menards, nothing will persuade me to drive across town through congested traffic to buy supplies for a home improvement project. I hate traffic and crowds so unless I need something out of the ordinary like oak veneer plywood, there is no way I’ll take nearly an hour to shop the box stores. If I happen to be in the area, remember that I need something and the parking lot isn’t too full I’ll stop. That doesn’t happen very often. My wife says I have too many rules. Maybe so but they are my rules.
Now let’s consider parking lots. My ACE store has an adequate parking lot although all of the parking spaces face toward the store, which seems rather weird. Down the street the True Value store’s parking lot is smaller and sits between two other buildings giving it a claustrophobic sense of enclosure. A feeling that continues inside the store as well.
ACE and True Value have remarkably similar floor plans. I’ve only shopped True Value the last time. I’ve only been in the store twice in the past several years, but despite the fact I “know” where things are the store makes me uncomfortable. It isn’t well lit, the ceiling is high, and it has a tunnel like feel. ACE, on the other hand, is well lit, wider and shorter than True Value. It seems more open and friendlier.
In short, I go to ACE because I can find a comfortable parking spot, find (or be shown where to find) what I’m looking for and get back to work in record time which more important than saving a buck or two.
Consider your buying criteria. Is the lowest price the only thing you base your decision on? Why would you think your different than anyone else. Price is important but the fact of the matter there are very few instances where prices vary much more than five or ten percent. Before you throw another sale look at your retail establishment and your competitors through your customer’s eyes. Look at the neighborhood, parking lot, lighting and the hundred other “little things” that are a part of your customers’ experience even before they encounter your “excellent customer service.” You don’t have to be great just better than the competition. If your customers feel good about shopping with you, being a little more expensive won’t matter to most people. And that’s true no matter where you go.