Sooner Or Later, the Box Stores WILL Figure It Out

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

At last month’s BrandSource Convention in Nashville, AVB’s merchandising chief Chad Evans said something during one of his presentations that really struck a chord with me.

I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of, “The big box stores are going to figure this whole pandemic thing out sooner or later.”

And you know what?  He’s absolutely right. 

Those box stores and home improvement giants didn’t get to where they are today because they’re run by stupid people.  They have a whole lot of very bright folks working for them who have likely spent the last eighteen months trying to figure out how to navigate the new world of retail, just like all of you.

There is an old adage, “The bigger the ship, the longer it takes to turn around.” That saying defines their dilemma perfectly.  Product availability and staffing issues are very fluid and seem to change every day, but because they are so big, chain stores can’t react as quickly as the typical BrandSource dealer can.  Our members are far more nimble than they are, and can turn on a dime when necessary. You see a problem or an opportunity and you react in minutes, not weeks or months.

But sooner or later, just as Chad said, they will figure it out.

In the past eighteen months your company has become more relevant to customers in your market area. Why?  Because you have continued to deliver products and services to your customers faster and better than the big guys. 

But the challenge for all of you is that unless you’re willing to simply give back all the gains you’ve made in the past year and a half, you need to remain agile — maybe be even more so, if that’s possible.

Yes, you need to continue to do all the small things that separate you from your competition. Things like delivering faster, installing better, and providing service after the sale, unlike that big box down the road.

The problem is that as the box stores start to figure it out, that might not be enough. So, you also need find new and creative ways to stay relevant, to stay top of mind with consumers in your market area. Otherwise, you risk becoming an afterthought.

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

  • Increase your social media presence dramatically, because it’s the future.  And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn when you, your company, or one of your employees does something newsworthy.
  • Create fun and exciting promotions. Maybe try some things you were afraid to attempt before. 
  • Step up your community involvement and sponsor local events.
  • Get involved with a local charity. 
  • If you’re not already in the local Chamber of Commerce, you should be. 
  • Start networking. Join local business groups and reach out to area realtors and contractors.
  • Join and support one or more local civil service organizations, such as Lions Club, Knights of Columbus and Kiwanis.
  • Stray from your comfort zone and try thinking outside the proverbial box for additional ideas.

But that’s not all; you also need to plan for the future. Maybe it’s time to consider expanding your business or adding some new, high-profit product lines.

The bottom line is that sooner or later, at some point down the road — it could be a year, it could be five — the competition will start to catch up with you all, and you need to be ready for it.

So, the question is … What are you doing to prepare for that day?

I have three goals in mind with my columns: To motivate, educate and entertain.  If I have achieved at least one of them, then I’ve done my job. Don’t be shy about letting me know if I did; please write me at egvrich@gmail.com.