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Making Concessions.REALLY?

Some professionals are changing their attitudes toward Internet customers.

8:09 pm on Jul 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In a recent online trade publication, I ran across the following article which I would like to delve into. It's from Pool & Spa News [poolspanews.com]

As I go through this articles highlights, I would like to get some discussion going on how these areas and even possibly some unmentioned areas have been addressed within other industry's.

I would like to share and discuss an issue or issues which the industry I’m in has run across since the advent of the modern day web. Admittedly, I realize there are many businesses, business owner’s and operator’s who do not cozy up to the idea of a consumer buying a product online, then expecting someone in the local area to install it.

Much to my chagrin, I cannot believe this issue still exists within the marketplace today, in so much that there are companies in a local market area who absolutely refuse, to in any way work with or on a product purchased online. As with many industries, there are products sold within the industry which are commodity type products.

Let’s say Consumer A buys such a commodity item online and asks Company B to install it for them. Company B says “Dude, you’re one of those internet customers. I’m not installing that without charging you for the money I lost because I didn’t sell you the product.”

Are consumers being profiled as either a local customer or an internet customer, which may be further segmented into a DIY classification?
Not that there’s anything wrong with this type of classification of customers, because we most certainly do it, but it’s how a business handles those different types of classes that brings about friction in the marketplace.

Our company sells and builds in our industry on a local basis and also sells nationally through our website. We have a localized site for our local customers and then our nationalized site for our national customers. It’s not that the two never meet because they do, and we promote it as such.

We are not the only company in our industry who sells online, so we do have local customers call us and ask if we will install a product which they purchased online. Now, I understand, there are those around the country who, as a dealer, may tell the consumer to take a hike and good luck finding someone to install that. We on the other hand welcome this as an opportunity to broaden our customer base. What we sell to the consumer in a situation like this is our company’s history, integrity, quality of work and the fact that we guarantee our work. Not to say the product won’t fail, but we guarantee our work.

Then there’s the customer who buys one of these products online and then contacts the local professional for some “free” information on installation etc. Within our industry this rubs the wrong way with so many people. Why? I’m not certain but I think it’s in part to the fact that there has been a paradigm shift in doing business, and they “never got the memo”.

I think that one of the reasons why there’s been so much resistance is a lack of adaptiveness and education. Those who are able to improvise, adapt and overcome have been rather successful in blending both a “local approach” and an “internet approach” to doing and generating business.

As we’ve noticed, the two above approaches will in turn have online businesses creating networks of licensed professional’s who will do the installation these “professionals” refuse to do. Thus, these so called “professionals” will be even further behind economically. I wonder to what degree this might be the “squeaky wheel” syndrome by this type of dealer.

What’s the harm in offering out some free advice and guidance to those who ask or require it? Furthermore, what’s the harm in broadening the customer base by doing the installation, doing some leg work, etc., all in an effort to broaden/strengthen your local base? The companies which offer this free advice and affordable installation; both sell and market their service and their company’s value in the market place as an installer, who hopefully adds value by a higher, longer service level.

One industry publication even quoted one dealer as saying “I’ve found that if I work with people, eventually I become the first call on their list,” says Bob Nichols, owner of Precision Pool in Glendora, Calif. “Next time they have trouble, there I am! I think it’s good business to build relationships with people based on their needs rather than yours.” To this point I couldn’t agree more.
“One time I helped a guy and now I’ve got five of his neighbors [as accounts],” Nichols says. “If I had refused to help, I would have lost a lot of money. My suggestion is don’t walk away until you’ve taken a good, close look at the situation.” Absolutely Sound Advice, in my humble opinion.

So, after reading my ever so brief dissertation; what's your take on this ?

Life, It's a Team Sport. ;)
4:07 am on July 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I'm with you on this - and so is Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos which he built from an idea to a 1.2 billion dollar acquisition by Amazom on just that kind of expansive thinking - and more. His book Delivering Happiness is an inspiring read and almost a meditation on "Life, It's a Team Sport."

As an example, Zappo's phone reps are never given scripts, never measured by sales generated, and not even measured by how many calls they handle in a day (because that translates into how fast can I dump this call).

Customers call in for general fashion advice and one time, to ask where they could find pizza delivery at 1 am. The Zappo's rep found them the answer.
10:34 am on July 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You hit the nail with "Lack of adaptiveness".

Many markets now compete on reponsiveness over price or quality, we generally want things on-demand ever since the www, yet most companies still process sales in the order they arrive and provide no way to expedite them for a premium.

Sucecssful companies tend to have an overall aim to make people want to do business with them, rather than make a quick buck in the short term.

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