When there is a struggling economy like the one we are currently dealing with, we often find ourselves competing with each other in the form of price wars. Businesses lower their profit margins in an effort to gain additional business and stay ahead of their competitors. This practice typically results in working two times as hard for less money.
Businesses should try a much different approach. We have all heard the saying Quality over quantity. Would you rather have a lifelong loyal customer or a one-time discount shopper? The lifetime customer will provide your company with repeat business over a long period of time, so you should be grabbing onto these customers and treating them like they are all your first priority. A little appreciation goes a long way.
The truth of the matter is that small businesses simply cannot compete with large chains. Large businesses and chains have a much greater buying power than small businesses, which gives them the ability to buy inventory at a much lower rate. This is why smaller businesses need to hit large companies where they cannot compete, with customer service and quality.
When talking to Steve Rouse from Stanislaus, a California based company that offers a wide range of tomato products to restaurants, I found they have a very unique approach to business. They like to make sure that their customers know how much passion they have for what they do. They compete on quality and service alone and never bring price into the equation. As a company, they focus on helping their existing customers grow their businesses through a variety of avenues. “Why pay for your friends” Rouse said. That’s essentially what you are doing when you are offering discounts and coupons.
Stanislaus truly facilitates their existing customer base through many different avenues. Since 1990 they have published a newsletter and idea exchange called “La Trattoria”, which is where all of their customers share the success stories of their businesses, giving ideas that other restaurateurs can build off of. It is filled with all sorts of useful information including recipes (most of which do not contain tomato products), success stories, ways to improve customer service and much more. In addition to their newsletter, Stanislaus also calls each one of their customers on a regular basis. Rouse says, “We truly feel our customers are a part of our family and we want them to feel that we are a part of theirs”. They like to make sure that their customers know they can call them whenever they have a problem.
Customer service is making a huge comeback in today’s market. Those who have the extra money to spend are looking for the star treatment that they feel they deserve. Great customer service and quality products are the best ways we can show our customers how important they are to our businesses. After all, who doesn’t like to feel like they are the top priority?