Naming names, award-winner points to advantages

Knowing the customers name is part of the battle that you can win against larger competition.

That’s an insight from the playbook of McDaniel’s Do-It Center, the 2012 Golden Hammer “Tools of the Trade” Award winner.

Also when battling big boxes, it’s important to use brand names, said Brad McDaniel, owner of the store in Snohomish, Wash.

“When we found out the box stores were coming, one of the things that really helped us fight it was the brand names,” said McDaniel, during the Golden Hammer Retail panel in Las Vegas, held during the National Hardware Show. One of those names is Benjamin Moore, he said -- “because people know that name.”

And speaking of names, knowing the customers’ names is a big part of the battle. “The advantage for us independents is we learn people names,” McDaniel said. “We know people’s families. Their dad shopped at the store, their grandfather shopped at the store. I have employees who have been with us a long time and know them; that also helps us in the fight.”

Bird feed and feeders has given the retailer a strong niche. “That’s one department that is totally recession-proof, and it’s something the boxes do a horrible job at,” he said.

“Another niche that does really well for us and is a little off the wall is the glass bottled soda, the old-fashioned soda,” he said. “We just keep expanding that area because it’s an excellent draw for customers for us. 

“We’re finding out the niches, learning customers names and also the old adage that 20% of your customers do about 80% of your business. We just really decided we’re going to focus on that 20% extra hard and really smother them. Meet them early at the store or stay later for them --  anything we can do to let them know we’re going to take care of them,” he added. 

Comments

One thing I did at a store I

One thing I did at a store I managed. We sold Weber Gas Grills. Of course, ours had better quality features than the big box stores, so I used that to our advantage. I put signs in acrylic holders, that said "This grill costs less at "whatever store name". Then I put two lists, OURS vs. THEIRS. Example, ours comes with stainless steel cooking grates, theirs: cast iron, along with a note, cast iron must be seasoned, can rust, more care needed, our stainless steel, never rusts, easier to clean. We sold hundreds of grills, once customers were informed, they made a choice, and usually in our favor. If I had not done this, people would not know, or ask, and just saw the price difference. Its your job to let them know the price is different, for a reason, and what that reason means to them as a user of the product. Another example, we sold storm doors with screen, big box stores came without screen. Sure it was $100 cheaper, but the screen option was $100 more anyway. So we put up a similar sign, so people would know. It's important to also put less items in your advertisements, and more information like this in the ad, otherwise customers never even come into your store to be informed of these things.

There's upfront cost. And

There's upfront cost. And then there's lifetime-ownership cost. Big difference.