Do you Gnome your Customers well?

  photo by Per  Ola Wiberg 

Although it’s starting to get too hot, it’s still gardening season and my wife has been doing a lot of work on our yard and flowers.  Some of it’s clean-up and the stuff you have to do every year, but a lot of it is finding new plants and flowers and figuring out what’s going to live and what’s not (and why).

We’re within a 5 mile drive of at least 1/2 dozen places that sell plants – several big box type of stores and a few local nursery operations.

The big corporate stores compete almost entirely on price – although they’re not necessarily the cheapest across the board, they are generally going to have lower prices.  However the overall quality is pretty suspect (unless you get there the day of a new shipment) and you are unlikely to get any real help or service.

It’s tough competition for the local stores…or is it?

Earning the business

We were joking last night that the local nursery has become a daily stop, but the truth is that we have gone there a lot lately – partly because it’s that time of year, but mostly because they’ve really earned the business.

On a typical visit, my wife will locate one of the several wandering employees and ask several questions (“The Coleus we planted 2 weeks ago is getting shredded by something, what’s doing it and what can we do?”, “We’ve got a dry shady corner – what’s likely to do well there?” – etc.).

Not only are the employees happy to answer her questions (even sometimes spending 15 to 20 minutes going into details) but they’ve all been very knowledgeable – clearly they enjoy what they do, they take it seriously and they like to help people.

So the prices might be slightly higher (although not always) but the service, the expertise and the selection make it a really easy choice to pay a bit of a premium.  And…not only are we loyal customers, but my wife has probably shared her experience with a dozen people (all of them interested and looking for a better place to shop for plants) in the last 4 weeks – I have to believe that’s helped their business.

What are you doing in your business?

When you look at how you interact with your customers, are you generating loyalty and stories they’ll tell to other people?  Are you training and incenting your employees to go out of their way and really deliver value and good will with every interaction they have?

I’d love to hear other examples or ideas of companies that are getting it right – share  you thoughts in the comments below!

By the way – in case your interested, it turns out that caterpillars love Coleus and about the only thing you can do about it is pick them off.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

1 thought on “Do you Gnome your Customers well?”

  1. Jared Lock says:

    We find that as a small business, one of our distinct competitive advantages is the capacity and flexibility to perform work in ways that clients want to — i.e., we do a project in a way that fits their natural style, not the other way around. We do not force them into a box and make them do things our way. it is important for your business to know who it is, who it appeals to, and why and then spend your time going after that market. You'll sleep much better at night and have more time to plant the roses.

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