Beating the Big Box Store
To Succeed as a Small Business, Make it S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for Your Customers - By Dr. Kevin Coughlin
Most people are aware that the real economic engine in the United States is small business. In fact, most would agree that small businesses are the foundation of the economy.
Very little provides more satisfaction than building and running a successful small business, but many small businesses make a fatal mistake at the outset: they don’t understand what their customers really want. As a small business owner, to put your best foot forward for success you must create a dialogue with your customer base, and ensure that your customers and clientele understand that you’re looking out for their wants and needs.
But building a customer-driven small business can be a bit different from competing with The Big Box on the corner. How do you fight a company or business that almost has an unlimited supply of money and expertise? In all truth, it can be extremely difficult and takes a lot of effort; but it can be done and is being done all across the country. Your customers want to feel connected, they want to feel special, and they don’t want to be just a number or another transaction.
Your customers are all looking for products and services that they believe in, like and trust. That is the winning combination in competition, and you and your team will be on the way to beating The Big Box by making the experience S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for your customers.
S - Superior service
What is it, and how do you attain it? First and foremost you must put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Experiment with each and every interaction that will occur between your company and the customer. A great starting point is to assess the quality of phone etiquette and your employees’ ability to address your customers’ questions. Ensure that you are receiving really good information that is timely and accurate. Really evaluate your website and email responses. Take an honest look at your products and services to make sure they are the best they can be.
P - Products
Evaluate your products and or services to see how they stand up against the competition. Take a hard look at the processes and procedures you can implement to make those products and or services most appealing and cost-effective to your customer base.
E - Education
This means training, training and more training with everyone from your sales people through your HR department; and perhaps most importantly, training for yourself. Many times as CEO or business owner you are the last to recognize that you may need and benefit from training more than anyone else. Success starts at the top, and without positive business training you and your company along with your customers will suffer.
Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your processes and procedures to make sure they are simple, repeatable and trainable. Delivering consistent products and services are paramount to successful long term success. Anyone can do something well once or twice, but when you can do it consistently you know your company is running well.
I - Ideal customer experience
You must look at and review to see if your customers are repeating purchases. Are they coming back to your company for additional products and services? If not, it’s imperative that you ascertain why.
Do your employees and customers have access to you? If not, why? Determine how to create an environment that allows information to reach leadership so team members and customers know that their concerns will be addressed and not overlooked.
L - Lighthearted
When it stops being fun for you, your team or your customers, you have started your company in a downward direction and action steps must be taken to change that culture. When your customers and team members have an enjoyable experience there is no better marketing plan available.
Most business want and dream to become larger. The reasons are many, but the main reasons are that success is equated many times with more or bigger; however, more doesn’t always mean better; it simply means more.
If your desire is to make your company or business larger, be careful what you wish for. The vast majority of small business entrepreneurs like the risks, controls, and the building of their business many times more than the end result. As has been stated many times, it is the journey more than the destination that brings real satisfaction.
For those who are wise enough to realize this, you must understand that all the things that can make the big box stores great are also the things that can be seen as negatives. This provides business owners an opportunity to compete and win over a customer base that eventually gets overlooked by so many big box stores.
In the end, all business owners are unique but most entrepreneurs have common traits. They are competitive; they like the action and want to win. They are motivated and work hard and have an undeniable desire to succeed and make sacrifices to accomplish their goals.
Whatever your goals and aspirations are, stick with them. There is plenty of room for the small, medium, and large companies. The market place needs all three groups. Find out what motivates you and what you really love about your business; pursue that passion with all your heart and you will receive much more than financial reward, but self-satisfaction that what you set out to do you accomplished.
Kevin Coughlin, DMD, MBA, MAGD is an accomplished dentist, author and speaker. With his unique and powerful message, Kevin provides small businesses with actionable solutions when considering strategic change, as well as keys to compete in an expansive market. For more information on bringing Kevin Coughlin in for your next event, please visit www.Ascent-Dental-Solutions.com.