It’s Getting Louder
The music was getting louder and louder as I approached the parking lot. It was coming from across the street. It was an automobile dealership, Mock’s Ford, and it was alive with action. There was a band playing, with folks of all ages dancing to the music, a barbecue filling the area with its popular aroma, and yes, people were buying cars. The excitement and activity drew me like a magnet to metal.
In front of the sales office, a local radio station, Cruisin’-FM, was conducting a live-remote broadcast allowing all in attendance to be involved. I located the dealership president, Don Carr, and during our chat he told me that they had sold almost as many cars so far that weekend as they usually sell in a month. To top it off he said, “We’re not giving these cars away.” Carr created a weekend partnering alliance with his community and won big.
And Still Making a Profit
How would you like to sell your products at that rate and still make a profit? You might be saying, “That’s great for selling cars, but what about me?” The answer is to get involved with your community in a way that serves people and created high-level exposure for your business. You’ll need to be creative and develop some fun, helpful, exciting community activities. Remember, being unique is not an absolute necessity, but it’s very helpful.
Creativity has always been, and will always be, the retailer’s call to battle. Creativity is also one of the key ingredients necessary to create value in the eyes of your customers. The way the national big box category busters (i.e., Wal-Mart, Circuit City, and Office Depot) develop perceived value is through selection and low price, not necessarily service. If you are an independent retailer and you’re trying to do battle in their arena, they will clean your clock. But, creativity is not necessarily a word that big boxes, at the local level, understand.
For years, Baby boomers have been the pig in the python in our economy. They were heavy-duty consumers in the 1980s, buying their first houses and filling them up, buying luxury cars and all the outward trappings of success. In the 1990s they traveled and purchased RVs. Now, with most of the Boomers having grandchildren, they will buy almost anything if they perceive it’s a good value. Also, determine what they perceive as value-added in how you run your business and give it to them–they’ll reward you with profits through their loyalty. Don’t forget about the X and Y Generations. While many were part of the dot com bust, they still seem to spend freely.
Create a unique position for your business in the minds of your customers and your competition in the marketplace is greatly diminished. Remember though, unique means one of a kind, (not just a bit different) and that’s what you must be if you plan to survive and prosper throughout this decade and beyond.
Earl Nightingale, co-founder of Nightingale-Conant Corp., the worlds largest producer and distributor of audio and video learning systems continually offered this suggestion for creativity: take a yellow pad each morning and spend a quiet hour thinking about the major challenges for the day. He would go to work listing all ideas he could think of–no matter how crazy, impossible, wacky or boring the idea might appear. “Some ideas you’ll use and many you’ll toss out,” he would say. The important thing is to capture the ideas and take action on the ones you believe will assist you in achieving your goals.
So, how does all this creativity and uniqueness talk help you to partner with your community? You can’t just copy what others have done and make it work for you. You can, copy the process used but not the results. Your community is uniquely different, your neighbors have special needs, and you must use your creativity to find a winning combination.