In the good old days, relationships were the key to the success of a business. Especially in the team sports arena. Not only did we rely on existing customers for repeat business, but we also knew that we’d get new customers from the word of mouth of our existing clientele. That’s how team dealers continued to grow year after year. In today’s digital world, there are new relationships with which we are forced to contend; Google, Amazon, and BSN.
Due to the downward trend in funding, most schools and teams are simply out to save money. Athletic directors are often captivated by the promise of using an incentive-based all-school contract to aid their underfunded programs. It seems like an easy fix for them. So how do you, the local team dealer, compete? How do you win those customers back, or not lose them in the first place? Believe it or not, price isn’t the primary factor. Neither are the incentives.
Great Service Over Low Prices
A good friend of mine once told me that when buying a product, you have three variables to consider; price, quality, and service. You can pick two of the three. For the team dealer, playing the ‘race to the bottom’ price game is never a good idea. The reality is that offering exceptional customer service for great products is the one-two punch for the team dealer. It allows you to charge a fair (not the lowest) price while providing the value of great service. Big box retailers, BSN, and online-only suppliers just can’t compete in the service arena. That’s where the team dealer can shine.
I grew up in a suburb on Chicago’s Northshore. At the time when family-owned businesses were being forced to close by the big-boxes, the family-owned Abt Electronics found a way to not only compete but to thrive. According to Forbes Magazine,
“Abt Electronics is one of the last examples of a nearly defunct species of business: the family-owned, single-location electronics and appliance retailer. Jon Abt, one of four brothers who currently run the business, says Abt has survived the onslaughts of Best Buy and Amazon by truly providing what many businesses only talk about: great customer service. It also has a big, beautiful store—70,000 square feet—with tremendous selection.”
Small Changes Lead to Big Rewards
Now I’m not suggesting that team dealers need anywhere near that amount of space. But you get the idea. How often do you, or your salespeople get calls from customers asking, “where’s my stuff?”. Often, dealers don’t have the information at their fingertips to provide a quick, definitive answer. Have you felt the tension over the phone line or embedded in an email when you can’t answer right away? Answering that simple question (consistently and in a timely fashion) while the customer is engaged is paramount to your success.
So, how do you take your customer service experience to the next level? It starts with software that makes your life easier. SportsPlus powered by CounterPoint was developed for the team dealer industry with guidance from a team dealer. It tracks your customers’ transactions from quote to order, through purchasing and embellishing and finally, invoicing. Plus, no longer will you need to double enter your receivables! Your sales team can quickly find out the status of any order in the system within seconds. Need to find out what a team ordered last week, month or year, click a button. Try that with BSN.
Keeping your existing customers while nurturing new ones does happen in this market. With the right people, exceptional customer service and the best tools, your business will be unstoppable. Our goal at Soft Intelligence is to provide team dealers with solutions that fit your needs. For a free, no-obligation consultation or demonstration, send us an email or give us a call. We’re here to help.
Chip Allen was a team dealer for over 25 years and has extensive industry knowledge and experience. He can help you improve customer service, grow your business and increase your profitability.