When your customers know, like, and trust you and know what you stand for, they will always choose your products and services over the rest. You need to offer good service and reliable products at fair prices, but this is simply part of what your business stands for. Sometimes a business will incorporate what they stand for in a logo, such as “Serving the Community for 30 Years” or “A Brand and Service That You Can Trust.” Other times their patrons over the years have simply internalized the fact that their business stands for honesty, integrity, and fair dealing.
The small business that has been operating successfully in a town or neighborhood for decades may simply need to continue doing business in the usual manner to remind people that they stand for fair prices, honest dealing, and the rest. But, when urban sprawl engulfs a small town it is now part of the suburbs and the competition moves in. Then the small business needs to market itself, not only to gain the business of new folks in the area but also to keep the business that it has. Of course, their advantage is that they can simply remind old customers and inform new ones that they have been“Serving the Community for 30 Years.” When promoting your business, your unique service proposition will include the fact that you have been taking good care of people and their parents and grandparents for decades.
But, even when times change, what you do every day tells your clients who you are and what you stand for. Goodwill can be lost as well as gained or held. It is important that when you bring on new employees that you train them not only in the mechanics of the job but in the culture of services and product quality that has made your company successful for so long.
The retailing giant, Wal-Mart has a slogan that says, “SaveMoney, Live Better.” They do sell lots and lots of stuff and have made the founders rich. But, they do help people buy the necessities of life for less and therefore live a little better.
A friend of ours tells us about his father who was a small town, Mid-Western businessman. The father was an independent insurance agent and realtor, most of whose clients were family farmers. On a Saturday night,the office was open until 10 pm as farmers did business, wives and older daughters shopped, and the kids watched a “Western” at the Lyric Theater for ten cents each.
Very commonly the father did not arrive home until past midnight as he stayed late discussing a piece of farmland with a farmer and son who were considering buying more acreage. Was there a crop failure on that land in the driest years of the 1930s? Was the land properly tiled so that in a wet year the corn and soybeans would not be damaged by excessive moisture?
The father never made a cent during those discussions but he took care of his clients and neighbors by sharing his knowledge. And, of course, when the farmer and son decided to make the purchase, the father got the commission ($1 an acre) and insured their crops, equipment, and buildings forever after!