Don’t let the future pass you by

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

I interviewed BrandSource dealer and AVB board member Sam McVay a short while back, and one thing in particular really stuck in my head. 

Asked what he saw as the biggest challenge facing his company, he answered, “How do you not become obsolete to consumers in a changing world?” 

I suggest you reread Sam’s response a second, maybe even a third time, and then take another moment to let it sink in, because it is an amazingly powerful insight.

The world in which you all do business is constantly changing and evolving. So, the question I put to all of you is … How are you going to make sure your company stays relevant in your customer’s eyes?

Since every company is somewhat different, the answer will be different for every company.  But I’ve cobbled together a list of suggestions that are a good place to start. A checklist, if you will, of things you should be doing to ensure you stay top-of-mind with both current and potential future customers in your market area.

Social Media
It doesn’t matter whether you like it; what matters is that most consumers do.  As a matter of fact, many are downright obsessed with it.  Priority No. 1 is making sure that your company has a strong social media presence across a variety of platforms (particularly Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram).  You or someone on your team needs to push out meaningful and engaging content that people will find useful or enjoyable, and preferably both.  Can you sell on social media?  Sure, but I’m not a huge fan of it. Its true power is customer engagement — if you keep them engaged, odds are they will remember you when the time comes to make a purchase.

Website
Sadly, if you don’t already have a website, it’s probably too late for you anyway. For the rest of you, let me say that it’s not enough to simply have a website. You need to have a great website, and AVB can help you with that if needed. Your site needs to be eye-catching, functional, easy to navigate and fully transactional with competitive pricing. Because if it’s not, people will find a competitor whose website is.

Community
As business owners, we already know that local, family-owned businesses are the lifeblood of a local economy. But that’s not enough; you also need to be a part of the community. You need to get involved and make a difference. There are plenty of ways to get involved, like joining one or more social service organizations and sponsoring their events.  Maybe your company cares for a local road and the town puts up that little sign that says, “This Road Maintained by XYZ Appliance.” Or how about sponsoring local youth or high school sports teams? Maybe offering up your parking lot and some water for a charity car wash?

Charity
Speaking of charity, you should be doing your share anyway, and if you’re not, you need to get involved with your local chapters. Helping your neighbors is never a bad thing. I know many dealers who are involved with Habitat for Humanity or other similar organizations. Your company has two things that groups like that desperately need: Skilled labor and home goods. Reach out and get involved.

Advertising
Yes, you still need to advertise, because the day you stop is the day you put your first foot in the grave. And don’t be afraid to try new things. That said, no one can afford to just throw money at a dartboard. You need to spend your advertising dollars wisely and must constantly measure the results of every advertisement.  Stick with what works and cut the cord on the rest.

The bottom line is that if you don’t figure out how to stay top-of-mind with the shoppers in your market area — if you don’t figure out how to stay relevant — odds are you’ll end up being just a footnote on the long list of failed businesses.

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