"Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it, it is what the client or customer gets out of it."
I had an interesting conversation earlier this week that prompted some thought about service and quality. These are buzz words that seem to be everywhere. Researchers tell us that consumers are becoming immune to advertising in the traditional ways and that they are increasingly aware of and avoiding shoddy service and quality.
The conversation I had was with one of the owners of a local hardware store located in Hudsonville MI. Gemmen's was established over 50 years ago and has been family and locally owned throughout. With over 42,000 square feet of retail space, their motto is "More than just a hardware store!" Folks throughout the area are familiar with the Gemmens' reputation for service and quality. Whenever I need something that my husband might send me to find, I go there because I am assured that I will be dealing with someone who is knowledgeable and available to answer my questions.
One of the recent challenges for this great business is the arrival of a number of "big box" stores all within a reasonable driving distance. Gemmen's has continued to compete by being members of a large buying group and with their great reputation for superior customer service, a repair and parts department, and knowledge about their products.
The owner shared with me that recently a customer approached him in the store to request a discount on a snow blower to match that of a "big box" offer. Following would be a request to assemble the snowblower (not done at the "other" store) and then to load it into his vehicle! THEN, reaching the vehicle, they realized it wouldn't fit so they partially dismantled the blower to fit in the vehicle. All this at no extra charge! Should this gentleman ever need service on the blower he will be able to get that at Gemmen's. Compare that to the experience he would have had at the "other" store! Small pricing difference, loaded on a cart in the box unassembled, maybe assisted with the box into his vehicle, assemble on his own at home and hope it works, find someone to service it if needed since he can't do that at the "other" store. He'll probably bring it to Gemmen's!
I, for one, am saddened by the demise of the smaller service-oriented businesses. We all want a good deal but at what cost? Will we miss the friendly smile from someone who knows our name and actually leads us to the exact item we seek? Will our expectation of service only be to have help getting our package out the door? Will anyone care if things aren't as expected?
There are parallels in real estate as well. The old adage "you get what you pay for" applies in so many aspects of our daily lives. If you are looking for the cheapest, it's always there, but sometimes you end up paying for it in lots of other ways...time, inferior service or product, emotional expense, lack of results....and more.
Copyright 2008 Sondra TenClay All rights reserved.