The Big Box retailers has endangered local small businesses. The model we see growing involves large companies getting larger and beating the small local companies to death through pricing. How can your business stay alive and relevant in the face of these giants?
Super customer service is the primary answer. Attaching a face to your company – a real, live, caring, local face – is one of the most important values you add. Big box operations try, but ultimately they can’t compete with the relational component you bring.
Your business is an extension of you. Take good care of it and take good care of your people. Allow your business to reflect the best side of you. Be caring, detailed, cost-effective, and problem-solving. Go out of your way to provide support for issues that may arise within their transaction with you. Great word of mouth marketing is the least expensive and most effective advertising you can get.
Keep an eye on your market for specialties to investigate. Don’t be afraid to invest in a niche, especially if there is an opportunity for higher profits. Your best customers will know what they want and will be specific about it.
Your niche could be how you modify what they want, creating something unique and personal for them. Just be careful. Strategically over-extending yourself so far into the niche that you cut yourself off can be dangerous.
Develop value added relationships with businesses that service parts of your market. Sharing the profits of a job with others who are like-minded and within the scope of your business will help you to network and market yourself.
Be a business owner who recommends others instead of hoarding for yourself. Relationships are one of the keys to being flexible on the local scene. Assess the vision, mission, and method of your partners so that you have a clear understanding of their philosophy of customer service so that you can develop as a “we” versus “them” mentality.
Win/win relationships with your suppliers can help you be more flexible in your local economy. Understanding their need for a fair profit, their need to plan, and their desire to minimize their risk is important.
High levels of communication can go a long way toward succeeding together, so make an effort to forecast your needs and desires. Creating a business plan with your supplier partners will help establish your loyalty and desire for success together. Communicating cost challenges will be much easier if there’s a mutual respect for each partner’s needs.
Each of the previous components will give you an end result: market flexibility. In the face of the massive growth of the online market, the big box market, and the “need it right now mentality”, your ability to be flexible is of utmost importance to reaching and keeping customers.
Small business is inherently risky and challenging. Your ability to bend will keep you from breaking.