The Hardware Store – A Love/Hate Story

imagesBMVK3WE4Our guest blogger this week is Lori Thoman, Marketing Coordinator for Superior Graphics:

Okay, let me just start out by saying that I do not like going to the hardware store at all.  Maybe it’s the two house remodels I’ve barely lived through or the thousands of trips to get “a couple of things” to get a weekend project started, but it is one of the last places that I want to go.

When I think of a hardware store, I automatically think of the mega huge chain stores that are planted nationwide. That’s what I’m used to and that’s my experience.  Here is how my trip usually goes down:

I need something specific, but I’m not sure where it is or what size, color, etc…

I need help;

I request help;

Help never comes;

The end.

I’m so used to this scenario, that I actually build in extra time whenever I have to go to one of these mega stores (and don’t even get me started on if you need help with paint).  I’m on my own and I know it.

Recently a project at work required me to get some very specific screws. (great… hardware store)  This is going to take me a while (have you seen how many types of screws there are in those places?).  On my way home, I remembered that there is a small hardware store in the shopping center close to my house called Elliott’s Hardware.  No, it’s not a mega store…it may not have everything I could ever need to build a house, BUT it should have screws, right?  My anxiety level goes up as I think about all the different screws I’m going to have to look through and the time that will be wasted…

I walk in and am immediately greeted by a nice man who asks if I need help. YES!  When I tell him what I need, he takes me to an older gentleman who was finishing up with another customer.  As soon as he finished, he comes right over and introduces himself and I explain my project to him.  He takes me down an intimidating aisle with millions of types of screws and zeros in on the exact size and shape that I need.  I think it took 5 minutes.  I almost cried.  He even had some other suggestions for my project that would work better than what I had planned.  “Trust me, if it doesn’t work, you can bring it back.”  Trust him?  I did!  Wow.  Did I pay a little more for these screws?  Yes.  Do I care?  No way.  It was worth every extra penny.

So…why was I so willing to pay extra and happy to do so?   CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE!  We throw that word around a lot.  What I mean specifically is:  KNOWLEDGE about the products, CONFIDENCE to make suggestions, PERSONAL INTEREST in my project.

How can we carry this over into our business? Let’s face it, our business is not the most glamorous around.  Most people aren’t clamoring to pick up their print jobs or discuss their print files with us…they might even dread the process.  But how can we make their experience something that they will actually enjoy and maybe even look forward to next time?  We need to strive to change their experience.

Oh, and by the way, I recently went back to that hardware store where I was immediately recognized and told “it’s good to see you back”.  I can honestly say that I agreed.

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