With the holiday shopping season behind us, bargain hunting is probably a pastime that is still quite fresh in our memories. Perhaps too much so.
If you’re shopping for a digital camera, an Xbox or a toaster, comparing prices from one outlet and another is rather simple. The products are technically identical, so price can easily becomes the sole decision making factor. It is true that you may choose to pay ten or twenty dollars more for something, simply because you consciously elect to avoid the line-ups and hysteria of Wal*Mart, and instead opt to patronize the smaller mom and pop shop. You paid a little more, but it was worth. Maybe you went there just because you saw that there was actually a place to park!
Yes, it surely is true that a customer brings you his shirts because he wants you to, once again, return that crumbled heap of fabric into clean, wearable, crisply pressed garments that they’ll be proud to wear. But people simply do not shop on price alone and that is simply indisputable. Let’s presume that the big box stores have the lowest prices for everything. It isn’t really true, by the way. I let my Sam’s Club membership expire a few years ago, because some items were simply not cheaper. Furthermore, if the key to saving money was to buy 16 1/2 years’ worth of unquartered butter or 8 brooms for the price of 7, I decided that I’d pass.
So let’s go with the assumption that everything is less expensive, at least by a little bit. If price was the sole decision making factor, no one would ever buy aspirin at Rite-Aid, tires at Henry’s Tire Service or a package of screws at Westport ACE Hardware. The fact that people spend more for convenience is incontestable.
Just last weekend, I was having a casual conversation with the dealer that I bought equipment from years ago. I was making a point about how easy it all was. The salesman, with the list in hand of everything that I needed to buy (I think it was 3 presses and a spotting board), said “this is what it costs, (he pointed to the MSRP) and this is was you can buy it for, delivered, rigged, set up and installed. That figure was still less than the MSRP. All I had to do was say “ok” and the deal was done. No more calls, no appointments to set up, no people to negotiate with. Did I get the best deal? Yes. Without a doubt. Did I pay the lowest price? Probably not, but I got the best deal because I wasn’t buying on price, I was buying an experience; a hassle-free procurement of equipment that would be ready to use as soon as possible. That’s what I needed, that’s what I wanted and that’s what I got! Any additional cost, assuming there was some, wasn’t to buy the equipment per se, it was to procure the level of experience that I wanted.
Ok, I hope that we’re clear, because this is important to you today. With this new year upon us, let’s re-evaluate how we look at and market our product and focus on the whole package; what you really offer your customers. Its more than a clean shirt! The fact that you will wash and press a shirt is nearly peripheral. It’s a given. It’s a forgone conclusion. A “duh!”, if you will. Focus on what you offer with regards to convenience and customer service and frills. Your customers will pay for that available parking spot, the friendly greeting and the warm homey environment that you provide over and above basic laundry service. Don’t be afraid to call attention to it because it is a big part of the customer experience and what they are paying for.
“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got!”