Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Being Your PlACE To Go

How are you making a name for yourself? Are you a store front? Are you independent or a franchise? How do you get customers in the door?
Increasing customer count. Sound easy? Well, if you can find the trick to doing this please fill me in! I have found it difficult to reach everyone in a way where I don’t have to “give up the farm” or offer a coupon. It is easy to have the customer come in for the “free item” or the “coupon” now keep those customers as lifelong customers-it shows its difficulty. It may not be easy but there are some things that have worked.

Host an event: I had a grand re-opening that proved to be a great idea. I had so many customers in the store I couldn’t walk from one end of the store to the other. I had so many great one day deals, giveaways, and coupons that if you weren’t there, you missed out! Has it increased our customer count? Yes! It was great! It got our name out there and told the town that we are here to help. “Nobody gets a second chance at a first impression”-that was the motto at the event. I told my employees how I expected this day to go. I showed my confidence about this event and I ASKED FOR HELP! You can’t do it by yourself. You need people; you need help-ask for it.

Direct mail: I love direct mail. Why? Well, when you send mail out to your customers, you are getting your name in people’s hands. They have to at least look at it before they potentially throw it away. So make it a bright color (ie. Yellow! It nearly screams at you). Next, have an offer they can’t refuse. I have found that $5 off a $20 or $25 purchase is great! Even if you see 2% come back, they came in! Again, it may be their first time in the store so remember “Nobody gets a second chance at a first impression”. This can be expensive but there are plenty of options in marketing this way.

Make a Change: Unfortunately, it took us to move locations to get the pot to start to stir. We have had amazing increases in visibility and customer count. It has been the best thing we could have done. Now that comes with risk. We could have discovered it was the worst thing for our business, but fortunately it worked for us. Now it doesn’t have to be a move of location to start the pot stirring. Change the store. Put something out front, switch your layout, change the aisles, or start making little changes looking for people to notice a change. You won’t be sorry and neither will the customers, they will start to get excited for the next change.
Social Media: We are in that era where social media is the biggest way to reach a large audience. Just think about the internet for a minute. It is so vast that you wouldn’t even begin to think about how many options you have to reach people. Now I understand you can’t do it all! Trust me I don’t. I started by picking 2. I chose facebook and Twitter. I knew those, I used those, I understood those. That is the biggest challenge. Don’t join a social media that you don’t either use yourself or understand. It won’t work like you need it to. If you can’t choose 2 choose 1. That is ok just pick one. If you like to write like me, blog! It is actually pretty therapeutic. Facebook and twitter are nice for pictures and deals; blogging is nice for informational purposes or issues you may be having; pinterest is nice for getting clicks to your website; youtube is nice for “how-to” videos or video blogs. That is just to give you a few options. I know there are a ton of other avenues you can try! Start small and grow!

Just a few ideas to start with. Develop a plan, ask for help, and be great!

Best Wishes for a growing business!
Pellicci Ace Hardware

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Live Local, Shop Local, Be Local

What does it mean to Live, Shop, and Be local? Well, it is something that I have found to be not as common as a business owner would have hoped. It may be hard to explain for some but for me it mean to support the town you live in by shopping, buying, and celebrating those who support you. Now you may wonder how your local businesses have supported you. How have they given back to me when it feels like I only give to them? Well, have you every had a child, sibling, parent, or maybe yourself asked for a donation for a fundraiser of any type? Who do you go to first? Your local businesses. They are always there to consider any donation that is a good cause because trust me, we get donation requests daily.

Here is the only thing about donations that I feel doesn't work. When being asked for a large donation from a local organization, it is hard to turn down however it is also hard to fulfill. We do everything we can to make it work but sometimes it just isn't in the budget. That doesn't mean that we won't give a price break or help you find a way to make it work. All we ask is that the business stays in town. It can be very difficult to compete with the big box stores. So why do it? When you live in a town like ours, with no big boxes, no fighting over who will get more business, you learn to appreciate those who support you and learn to educate those who don't.

You may see an ad that shows a big box is $.10-$5.00 (in some cases) cheaper than your local business. But lets break down that difference. Right now gas is over $3.00 a gallon. You could argue that it won't take a full gallon to get to the big guys but it will take some. It will also take time to drive there. I know we are about 10-15 min. away from a big box here. That is about 20-30 min. total. Not to mention when you are that large, it may be convenient to get all your items at one store but how long does it take you to find everything on your list? I can honestly say I did a test. I won't name any names here but facts are facts.

Looking for a particular item at a local business usually goes as such:
1. I walked in the door- I am greeted by somebody, either the person that will walk me right to the place with the item I am looking for or just a friendly face that will get me a person to help.

2. I am taken right to the item(s) I am looking for and also suggested other items to go with the product I am looking for.

3. If my item is not there, I am told they can get it within 2-3 days.

4. I am thanked for coming into the store and I am told they appreciate me choosing to shop local.

Looking for a particular item at a big box has been tested to go as such:
1. I walk in and am a bit intimidated by the size but think it will  be nice to get everything on my list...if I can find it.

2. I am searching around the store to find my "widget" looking at any sales associate that will look my way but for some reason they are all looking at me then looking away...

3. I finally "interrupt" someone from their talk with another employee by asking where to find the widget...I am given the finger...(pointing to the location where I may find it on my own!)

4. Still can't find it because, as it may surprise that employee, I don't work there.

5. Finally but another employee that takes a deep *sign* to show me where the product is because I should have known when I was given the finger.

6. I get my part, check out, leave, go home, realize...I need another part.

Was it worth it? Not to me.

Shopping local is a lifestyle change and We small business owners understand that. However, I ask you to give it a shot. Try it for one week. Even those things you think you can't get at a hardware store, try it. If it wasn't worth it or didn't work, please comment and let me know.

Best of Luck and We Appreciate you shopping local!

Pellicci Ace Hardware