Market-research firm Synovate eNation identified the top three answers to the question, "What makes you choose to patronize a small, local, independent business over a larger chain?" READ IT HERE
#1 Answer: "I want to support my community". #2 Answer: "The local merchant is more conveniently located". #3 Answer: "The service is more personal".
Not surprising results, and certainly there are many other reasons people have for buying local, but #3 is really interesting and relevant because it speaks to the topic that has emerged in recent HTP meetings: our "hometown advantage" is our authentic and genuine relationships with our customers and our community. This study tells us something about that relationship, that there is an important distinction between "personal service" and "good service". We think of good service as including skills and knowledge as those things that any business, including large national competitors, can train employees to have. It can be "cold". Personal service is more of an attitude; it's a personality that is welcoming and cares for the client/customer. It is a "warm" relationship.
How can we strengthen our "Hometown Advantage"? Can we work together, almost as consultants, to help each other to better see our own competitive strengths and weaknesses? Can we collaborate in reaching "the buy-local crowd"? Would a buy-local promotion with other businesses help? How are you connecting with customers who actively think about keeping dollars in their own communities when they buy?