Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being Available Is Better Than Being Good, But Unavailable

I loved Elliott’s Hardware in Grapevine. It was a cross between the local hardware store and a big box with a better selection of odd stuff than the big box and better staff. Elliott’s employees knew their stuff.

When we had an office in Grapevine, I drove by Elliott’s on the way home. It was natural for me to stop off at Elliott’s. Too bad the store closed at 6:00 p.m. and I left the office after that.

Once, I raced over to Elliott’s, only to arrive a couple of minutes after 6:00 p.m. I was too late. The store was locked up tight. Another customer pulled up as I walked back to my car.

“Closed?” the woman asked.

“Yup,” I said. “I’m trying to patronize the family business, but they’re not making it easy.”

The store’s hours were especially odd considering Grapevine is a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth. It was almost impossible for commuters to return to Grapevine before the store closed.

Home Depot and Lowe’s may not have had the selection, quality, or personnel, but both stores remained open until 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. Elliott’s was closed Sunday.

Elliott’s is now closed for good. The store was leveled and a Bank of the West was built on the remains.

Elliott’s was clearly better than the big boxes. Being better is not good enough. You’ve got to be easy to do business with. Being easy to do business with starts with being available.

Are you available when your customers want? If not, are your competitors?

© 2009 Matt Michel

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