Be First and Be Prepared to be Different: In the equine industry, those EasyCare Dealers who are always first with the newest and most advanced hoof protective technologies always make an impact and the best impression on their customers. This was particularly interesting to me during the release of our new EasyShoes.
I had dealers calling, leaving messages and calling back before I could get back to them to pre-order the new EasyShoes. However, I also had dealers that wanted to sit back and “wait to see” what happens. They, obviously, will have a lot less impact on their customers and could possibly lose sales for lack of stock.
But you’re only going to make something of that great first impression if you’re smart enough to understand the needs of your customers. To do this you need to do your research. EasyCare provides literature and videos to educate you and your staff. But, you also have to have a clear understanding of your own differentiators and the impact they can have on your customers. Even if your store is in a highly competitive area, there is always something that should differentiate your tack shop from others.
How can you differentiate yourself from the other tack shops, feed stores or on-line ordering? Yes, price is important, but it certainly isn’t the only thing that will sway a customer to purchase. What else have you got to offer? How can you really help your customer? Are you offering the newest, most advanced products in hoof protection? Can you show them good, reliable customer service? Can you offer hoof boot fittings? Can you offer minor hoof boot repair? Can you offer EasyShoe or Glue-On clinics? Your added value is starting to emerge and this can differentiate your tack shop from your competitor.
Get to know your competition: To help refine your differentiators, it’s useful to know what your competitor’s differentiators are, too. Not only the other store in the next town over, but the on-line shopping sites as well. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses. The latter is important because you can define your differentiators accordingly and step up your game in these areas. I have dealers that are in the same vicinity that actually work together for the good of the customer. One dealer will only sell hoof boots, while the other specializes in E-Z Ride Stirrups, Stowaway Packs and HiTies.
Have integrity: No one trusts a business that bad-mouths the competition. Stay true to your business values. Selling is a tough business, but a business owner with integrity is a huge differentiator and that goes a long way in creating a good customer service experience.
Find out which differentiators matter to your customers: Your customers play an important role in helping you further refine your differentiators and focus on the ones that matter to them. Step outside your business and listen to your customers’ needs and fine-tune your marketing messages. Focus on differentiators that really matter to your customers.
Roll your differentiators into your marketing message: To help ensure your differentiators are well-defined and ingrained across your entire sales and marketing operation (including your staff), it’s important to develop a messaging platform and stick to it.
Most of all, make this about the Customer: A good sales person has the skill to let the customer do most of the talking. Have your sales people follow the 80/20 rule (80 percent listening, 20 percent talking). Instead of rushing through their pitch telling the customer which hoof boot is their (personal) favorite and trying to convince the customer accordingly, train your sales people to let your customer talk. They need to listen and understand the customer’s needs and identify which hoof boot style can address that customer’s needs and then outline the features and benefits. A very good salesperson will go the next step and look for needs that the customer hasn’t even raised. The more you can get the customer to think about needs they hadn’t previously recognized, the more likely you are to earn their trust and loyalty to your store. This will differentiate your staff of experienced sales people from the kids that are working at the other feed store in the next town or an on-line order.
EasyCare offers training for you and your staff, at your convenience. Training is done by phone and usually takes about 30 minutes of your time. Please call for an appointment.
Retail Account Rep
I am the Retail and New Dealer Account Rep for EasyCare. I will be happy to help you with ordering, selecting the most popular styles and sizes of EasyCare hoof boots to stock. Let me help you with suggestions on merchandising and provide training for you and your staff, at your convenience.