In the previous article (Feb. 2007 Ledger, pages 54-57) we discussed the challenges facing locksmiths while trying to compete with the big box retailers. The top challenge was the economies of scale the big box retailers represent and the locksmith's inability to compete against them based on price alone.
We also briefly discussed the advantages a locksmith has over the big box retailer: Specialized Experience, Certified Technicians, Knowledgeable staff, Needs Assessment capability, Commercial Quality Products, Product Breadth, Commercial Expertise and Product Exclusivity.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows your business to create an effective strategy aimed at your target market. So, what is your target market? What market(s) do you want to serve?
While this answer will be different for almost every reader, first take a close look at the strengths listed above. Your real leverage is in your knowledge. What markets need that knowledge the most? Here is a sample list of potential target markets where a locksmith would have a significant advantage over Big Box Retailer: Hospitals, Schools, Retail Stores, Commercial Buildings, Churches, Apartment Complexes.
The key question is, “Which customers can I serve better than the Big Box Retailer?” To do this, always refer to the list of advantages you have over a Big Box Retailer. This will help you look at each market in a way that asks the question, “What are they looking for?” “Why is a locksmith a better source for their needs?” And finally, “How do I communicate that to the customer?”
You also need to consider what potential this market provides in your area. Let's use apartment complexes as an example. If you have 40 complexes in your immediate area, yet you are only doing business with four of them, this may prove to be an adequate opportunity for your business.
Once you determine the opportunity this market has for your business, you must then ask the question: "What are they looking for?"
In this example, an apartment complex owner may be looking for high quality locks to strengthen the security of his business, masterkeying capability so the staff has access to each unit or a reliable rekeying resource as tenants move out.
Why would an apartment complex choose to go to a Big Box store to purchase security products?
· Convenience, possibly they are located closely to a Big Box Retailer
· Comfort level, because employees tend to have more comfort going to a source they have experience with.
· Price, specifically if they are only looking for one or two replacement locks to fix something that has broken.
With the reason they would go elsewhere established, let's look at why they should not!
· Service. A locksmith can provide services that are not available through the Big Box Stores such as masterkeying, rekeying etc.
· Advice. A locksmith can become a valuable resource by providing advice on not only how to fix a customer's security issues, but also on how to prevent them from happening again by choosing the most appropriate solution.
· Accountability. The complex is dealing with a professional who installs locks for a living
· Efficiency. By creating a relationship between the complex and the locksmith, the complex has a direct line to a security professional any time an issue comes up.
How do I communicate this message to the market?
The first step in communicating this message is to find out who needs to receive it.
How do I reach the key decision makers?
There are a variety of ways to identify the key decision makers including making cold calls, using local directories or using database services. Let's take a look at the data available for purchase in your market.
One of the most daunting challenges facing the locksmith industry today is how to compete with the Big Box Retailer.
Arrow recognizes that most small businesses are at a loss for marketing resources, which is why the company developed the customized marketing solution at www.rssmarketingtools.com . It is...
When business is quiet, take some time to create a flier, search the Internet for organizations looking for a guest speaker, or visit potential customers and drop off your brochure.