With the societal trend toward whatever is better, faster, and smarter, I’ve noticed (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) a decline in the overall quality of goods and services in the marketplace. It’s become evident that as big box retailers work themselves into a frenzy trying to keep up with the curve while keeping their prices down, many of them aren’t able to maintain the overall quality that consumers are used to, and– on the heels of one of the worst economic times in decades– have come to demand. Consumers are more discerning than ever, and you’d better believe they’re choosy about where to spend their hard-earned dollars. This is where the “shop local” movement comes into play. If people are going to spend money, they want to feel confident in the places they choose to spend it.
Fortunately for the Dayton market, if there’s one thing we do well it’s produce quality local businesses that are run by people who believe in a hands-on work ethic and know what it means to stand behind their brand. They simply have to in order to survive in a marketplace that is more demanding than ever. A handful of local companies with which I’m familiar have managed to do exactly that: Esther Price (family owned and operated), South Park Tavern (best pizza in Dayton), the Oakwood Club (the owner still hand cuts the meat), and Dorothy Lane Market (best customer service policy pretty much anywhere) are a few shining examples of local spots that consistently get it right.
And when you get it right repeatedly and treat your valued customers as though they are in fact valuable, you will earn customers for life. When you deliver incredible products and service, you will not only earn repeat business but free promotion (this is what’s known as a win-win). On the flip side, if you promise something outstanding and you fall flat, you’re worse off than if you hadn’t promised anything in the first place. Marketing rule #87: happy customers will tell their friends; unhappy people will tell everyone.
I recently visited a privately-owned steak house in Chicago that is one of the oldest and most esteemed of its kind in the city. I like to check out independent restaurants whenever possible, and if there’s one thing I love to indulge in, it’s a decent steak, so I was pretty excited about this place after hearing all the hype and reading rave reviews. I should have taken it as a bad sign when the waiter brought A1 with my steak…and I *sheepishly* had to use it because the steak was completely tasteless. I had never before been to a prime steakhouse that even had A1 on the premises, much less delivered it with the meal. Fail.
Just like a great steak doesn’t need A1 to make it taste “good”, quality shops and restaurants don’t need anything fancy to make them look good- if they actually are good, it’s evident. Businesses that deliver something awesome know it; they put themselves out there for the world to see and what you see is what you get. And just like with a perfectly-prepared steak, even if you have to pay a little more for it, what you get time and time again with your local favorites is amazing service, exceptional products and a guarantee that you’ll leave happy- that’s precisely why they’re your favorites in the first place.
As the entrepreneur of a local niche boutique, I’m proud to say The Envelope has been referred to as “the only place to go for invitations” in Dayton by many of our loyal customers (I know because they tell me). When you shop with us, you know exactly what you’re going to get. The one thing I’ve stood behind, no matter what, is that we will go above and beyond to make sure our customers want to keep coming back to us. I take pride in what I do, in the people who represent my business, and in our reputation in the Dayton market. I’m fully invested. On the rare occasion when a customer has been unhappy, I have literally lost sleep trying to figure out a way to make it right for them.
I believe that exceptional quality speaks for itself, and I know that we don’t need to add any bells and whistles or special promotions to make it look like we’re a cut above the rest. I offer unique designs and products, personal (sometimes quirky) customer service, and a promise that you’ll leave happy. I don’t offer A1. It’s simply not necessary.