by Dr Will @ Iconic

SCORE Advice on Retail Management

Posted by William Bralick on Jul 16, 2015 10:57:25 AM

Some interesting Q&A for small retailers over at SCORE to help improve your retail business processes.  The first answer, in particular,  caught my eye:

In an age where so much shopping is done online, and large chain stores can offer deep discounts, what advantages can a small retailer offer his or her customers?
One is the ability to offer unique products. For example, many artisans cannot support the volume demands of a big store. But customer service is particularly important. A small retailer has the opportunity to build more of a personal relationship, and have a better understanding of the customer and his/her needs.

infinite-target-registers_l-300x181The real key to the SCORE answer is not "unique products".  That may be true if the small retailer is an artisan who hand crafts the store's wares.  Often, though, that is not the case.

What is certainly true, whether the store is operated by an artisan or not, is "customer service is particularly important" and having the opportunity to "build more of a personal relationship" differentiates the small retailer from Big Box Build-It-Yourself Furniture, Inc. (for example).

Good.  So.  As a practical matter, what does this mean?

A friend of mine is a maître d' at a local country club.  For a time he left his employment there to manage a failing McDonald's franchise.  (Yes, it is possible for a McDonald's franchise to fail.)  Anyway, he took it over and within 6 months had turned it around. 

I asked him how he had done it.

iconicHoleHe said that he had applied the lessons that he had learned in the club industry to the fast food restaurant.  This consisted in a few simple, but important principles:

  1. Remember peoples' names; call them by name.
  2. Greet them with sincere appreciation when they arrive (a warm welcome)
  3. Do something memorable for them while they are there (magic moments)
  4. Wish them well when they depart (a fond farewell)

He taught the employees to treat the customers the way the employees would want to be treated.  (See above.) 

Suddenly, the McDonald's started getting repeat customers.   Why do companies have loyalty programs?  Because it is always easier and, yes, cheaper to retain a customer than attract a new one.  We all know this.  But isn't the easiest and best "loyalty program" the "Golden Rule"?

Business Process Improvement Assessment

Gustave_Dore_-_Death_on_the_Pale_Horse_1865The three horsemen of the small (or start up) retail apocalypse are: online competitors, big box competitors, large chain competitors.  We will address online competition and large chains in a later post. 

What about the big box stores?

The big (empty, hollow) box competes largely, exclusively on price.  And, sure, if people are dead set on getting the absolute lowest price and that is the only thing that matters to them, then these are not your customers anyway.  Never were.

You cannot match the sheer negotiating power of these behemoths and therefore cannot match their much lower costs and therefore cannot afford to compete with their prices.

On the other hand, the big box cannot compete with you on your strengths - personal, individual attention - just like you cannot compete with them on theirs.  Where they have demographics, you have names and faces.  Where they have big data, you have experience and a personal touch.

I don't know how they will ever survive competing against you.


"Gustave Doré - Death on the Pale Horse (1865)" by Gustave Doré  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Topics: relationships, Process, High-touch

Iconic BMS is dedicated to helping you make your brewery Iconic ... by providing the techniques and technology to improve your operational excellence.

Your brewery is focused, as it should be, on your beer and your customers.  The "business of the brewery" is that set of activities common to all businesses that make your organization effective and efficient.  Improvements in the "business of the brewery" help you improve by freeing resources to focus on what is most important - the Customer ... and the beer!

This blog will cover more than just techniques and technology, though.  Included will be all manner of information that takes a brewery from fantastic to Iconic.

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