On an early-morning run the other morning I noticed that three metal drain covers had been stolen during the night. It’s no mystery that the tough economy and increasing levels of unemployment force people to steal drain covers to sell them for scrap.
After my run by a felt pain in my joints and decided to get my running shoes checked out at the local running shop when I had a chance. On Saturday I went to the running shop with my shoes and asked the person behind the counter for help. His advice was to show me a new pair of Nike Pegasus running shoes that provide superior cushioning.
The price of these running shoes that this running shop was offering was far higher than what you could buy at a larger discount retailer. It made me ask the question: “What value do you get from smaller specialist shops?”
It’s an important question in this down economy where stretching your rands counts.
The question could be asked not only of running shops but a number of other small specialist retailers such as computer stores, health foods shops, personal and skincare shops and even the garden nurseries.
The problem is if you don’t offer value that meets customers desires and perceptions of value you can quickly lose customers. Take this running shop, for example, which is been operating for about 18 years. It’s a pale shade of what it used to be. The design of the shop is unattractive. It has a make-shift change room. The winter running stock has not arrived. The range of running clothing and shoes is meagre and high-priced. Sadly, unlike past visits to the store, this time they did not have any running expert at hand to provide advice.
The same problem of providing value such as having experts available is now all too common in hardware stores. If you had a repair problem, you could go to a hardware store and there would be an expert on hand who could give you solid practical advice. Hardwares that do have trained and experienced staff are very few these days. Unless it’s a complex repair problem, you might as well go to one the large discount chains stores to buy your hardware items.
One small group of garden nurseries has experienced horticulturists at hand to help you solve the most difficult of garden problems whether it be for lawns, flowers, indoor plants or herbs. Yes, they may charge a little more but you won’t waste your money buying the wrong product that may not work or does damage to your prized flower beds.
Small businesses need to focus their scarce resources on value to the customers. But not what they perceive to be value but what matters most to the customers. Small business owners should deliver value proactively by anticipating changes in customers’ desired needs and continually improving the value proposition of their existing products and services.
Do you have a value problem in your small business? How would you go about solving it? Your business may be close to customers which provides convenience and top of mind awareness but are you offering the value that your customers want? Expertise and professional advice actually reduces the fear of buying the wrong product or service and properly packaged, promoted and delivered, can be one important way of providing greater value.