It’s been interesting to note businesses closing after many years. Some just have come to the end of a lease, others the owners looking to retire or simply because the cost of doing business outweighs the profit from the service provided.
Everything from restaurants to travel agencies to specialty shops (such as book stores or hobby shops) seems to be moving on as of late. In today’s world of instant gratification, it should come as no surprise that most folks want it faster and cheaper.
Take for example, the model railroad hobby shop. Here in the San Francisco Bay area, we used to have a fair number of train shops. Now I can count them on one hand and still have fingers left over. It isn’t that people are leaving trains behind. The neighborhood store where once were sold the items to pass the hours enjoying the hobby with friends has given way to the Internet and eBay. Now it arrives by Priority Mail in a few days instead going home with you after that store visit.
The same rings true on books, DVD’s and CD’s. Why go to store when you can simply download the content right to your iPad in a few minutes from where ever you have that connection to the Net?
Hence, the challenge.
How does a business attract a customer and keep them coming back for more?
Good question. But with all of these small businesses moving on, one might think that all but impossible.
Someone once said the key was “publish or perish”. And right that person was. For the only way your customer knows what you can offer is if you let them know about it. Take a lesson from Disney. Right now, Disneyland is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary. With nothing really new at the park, they have renovated a few attractions, added a new parade, fireworks and updated a water show. Pushing the big Six Oh to guests to revive memories of visits past seems the plan. And guess what, it is working! Attendance is up and people are packing the place as the summer progresses.
A friend just bought a hobby shop. He has a history in retail and did not go into this with the naivete that some might. He knows the challenges ahead but plans to meet them head on. Using new technology to learn what his customers are buying and get an idea on what they might buy as new products come along. He’s not afraid of the Internet or eBay. Plans to make use of both to sell products.
And he isn’t standing still. Every one who looks at the store in person or online? A potential customer. Maybe not a big sale everyday, but by being there when the sale is to be made, he will develop loyalty. And by being able to be a knowledge base for those potential customers, he spreads the word to more potential customers. Throw in a few special events here and there to bring in folks who might not always stop by and a few more customers might come his way.
It’s a long haul ahead, but he isn’t afraid of that. Because he knows that he has something to offer that people want. Being there when they are ready to buy? Yes, it counts a great deal. Having what they want? Even more.
But being afraid of the challenge? Never! That’s the fun of it.