Blog: Winning the War with Retail Giants
You followed in the footsteps of your grandfather and your father and find yourself in the family business. Your role in life is to sell RVs and related parts and accessories, just as your family members before you.
The dealership emerged from the firmament in post-World War II America, a fertile time for growth in this country. Your business now sits on 24 acres and you have recently completed moving into your new 16,000-square-foot showroom and 10-bay service facility.
With 18 employees to take care of, you are living the dream of an entrepreneur. It’s fleeting moments of ecstasy followed by weeks of stress and pure terror. Yes, you are living the American Dream.
The last 60 years have been pretty good, as the family business has provided for everyone, but what about the future?
You are constantly asking yourself this question, “How are we going to compete with all the online retailers and big box stores?” It feels like you’re caught between a rock and a very hard place with no way out. Expenses keep climbing and you simply can’t keep cutting prices to match the competition; there’s literally no more to cut.
But what can you do to fend off the wolves?
Relax my friend, and take a deep breath. There is a solution and I’m going to outline it here for you. So pay close attention.
First, you must realize that the game you’re playing does lead to zero – that much we are certain about, so you need to change the game that you are playing. It’s actually quite simple and not complex, but it does require a change in thinking and a change in the conversations you and your staff are having on a daily basis.
The truth is that you are not in the RV business – you are in the communication business, and while you do communicate about RVs, the real business is one of pure communication.
So, every day when you communicate with customers, you have a conscious choice to make, and it goes like this: Today, am I going to talk about prices all day with every caller? Or am I going to talk about my commitment to take care of people? Am I going to talk price, or am I going to talk about my commitment to be their Go-To RV professional who will keep them on the road no matter what? Am I going to dump prices to get off the phone, or am I going to declare my commitment to help them no matter what they need?
On that fateful day when they are broken down on the side of the road, will ‘price’ come and help them – or will you?
The answer is obvious, but you need to express that to your customers. And while you express your commitment to them, you can also commit to providing a ‘fair price’ because it’s important but it’s not the most important thing.
Here’s another piece to keep in mind: Your customers were born into the Information Age, so they are all conditioned to look up pricing and technical information online.
In the process of becoming “digitized people”, it’s become standard practice to “ask for prices” when shopping. In short, it’s become a habit to ask for a price. But I can safely tell you that price is never the real issue; getting back on the road is the real issue.
They need their RV guy or gal to help them with that – and you need to learn how to articulate your commitment. Articulate your commitment first and then you can have a discussion about your fair prices. If your commitment is clear enough and big enough, they will forget about the impersonal big-box store or impersonal online retailer.
Dan Molloy is president and CEO of Molloy Sales Development Group. Molloy improves communication skills inside companies and in the process improves the company. Changing price conversations is part of Molloy’s Power Sales Training program. You can learn more by visiting www.molloysales.com