Mark DrysdaleLadysmith Chamber
It may seem that our small businesses in Ladysmith are facing an uphill battle when competing against the big box competition in Nanaimo and Duncan, but in reality there are many things that make local smaller businesses more appealing to customers – we simply need to embrace and capitalize on our differences. Here’s a few ideas:
Know your Customer: As a small business in a small town you have a huge advantage as soon as a customer walks in your door. Greet them personally with a smile, learn their name (and remember it if you can), and learn to make the experience as personal as possible.
Be Unique: Personalization doesn’t just apply to people it also applies to the products and services your customers want. You can’t carry every product but you can special order it, make sure your customers know it. Know your products inside and out and provide your customers with a level of service, knowledge and expertise that they’re unlikely to find in the big boxes.
Redefine Value: You probably won’t compete with the big guys on price alone, so don’t try – sell value instead. The kind of customers that create return business for your company are happy to pay a little (not a lot) more for a better experience. Support local non-profit groups and show it off. The customers you seek will value the time (and money) you’ll save them through your knowledge and attention and will appreciate your support of the community.
Network: Don’t overlook the value of joining your local Chamber of Commerce. Not only will you have the opportunity to save on business expenses, you’ll also have the chance to learn from fellow business owners, build your reputation, share leads and gain additional exposure through networking activities and events.
Mark Drysdale is manager of Ladysmith & District Chamber of Commerce