By Guest Blogger Katy Kassian
Working together instead of against each other...
When someone - especially someone new - comes into your business and asks for something, how do you respond? How prepared are you (or your staff) to still be helpful if you don’t have what the customer is looking for?
Let me tell you a story~ When we first moved back to the farm, I ran down to the nearest town with a Rexall- 20 miles away- because nearly every Rexall carries at least two colors of thread. I walked in, looked around about ten minutes and did not find what I was looking for. In that amount of time, not once did the clerk speak to me. Not even a “Hello”. By this time I got the drift that I was inconveniencing the clerk by being there. I asked her where the thread was and the only response I got was “We don’t have any”.
So, off I went. 40 MORE miles to the city where they had a fabric store. After I went there, I also visited the hardware, grocery, feed store, gas station and took myself to lunch. ALL things I could have done back in the little town. I had not wanted to spend an entire day on the road.
Guess what? A month later I found out there was a quilt shop at the other end of the street! WHY didn’t she say anything? Was she worried someone else might get the sale? Was it small town politics at work?
Or did she simply not know any better?
When businesses cooperate and help each other, everybody wins. You win. The customer wins. The community wins.
No community or business is an island.
Not having what a customer is looking for is not a valid reason to send them out of town. Know what your other stores have and don’t hesitate to send your customer there.
So many wonderful things happen when you adopt a ‘front porch’ attitude about your community and businesses.
By knowing your neighbors, you can better help your customers, which in turn helps everybody. It keeps money right in your town. You see, if that clerk had just said “Hey! Check the quilt shop” I would have shopped nearly all the stores because they were all on my list of places we needed something from.
Plus, there is the matter of goodwill. I would have remembered that she tried to help and I would have returned the next time I needed something. So while that particular store may not have gotten our business today, they would have made up for it in repeat business. Instead, we chose to take our business to the next small town over for many years.
Take some time and get to know your fellow businesses. Look for what they have that you may not. How can you compliment each other or leverage each others resources to enhance your own? Remember that competition is a good thing. It fosters creativity, innovation, customer service and brings more reasons for more people to come shop or live in your town.