I live in a small lake community just outside of Austin proper. In my little burg, there is a supermarket war with a battlefield less than a ¼ of a mile wide. The big new guy is (I don’t usually refer to companies by name, but what the heck) HEB and they built a SUPER store right across the street from the original player, Randall’s.
Competition is a good thing. It should raise the bar.
I love HEB. They carry my favorite beer (Kona Longboard Ale) and have cooking stations, samples, and great sales. It’s kind of like going to the circus. Despite higher prices; I think Randall’s has a better bakery and better produce so I have been splitting my shopping.
Laura and I were making a Randall’s run for bread and green stuff. She also orders a very specific flavored water by the case that Randall’s fulfills. I went to the customer service desk (did I mention CUSTOMER SERVICE desk) to grab a case. They keep it behind closed doors. No one was there so I patiently waited (honest, patiently). It was kind of busy and I guess the manager had jumped in to help bag groceries. I love when management gets in the trenches. BUT, on this occasion, the store manager turned to see me and shouted, kind of angrily, “What do ya want?”. It actually startled me. I told her about the case of water, which I wanted TO BUY from her store and she stormed into the back room and brought it out. Still not recovered from my apparent interruption.
I turned to Laura and said to hell with the bread and apples, I am not coming back. PERIOD.
When the cash registers are singing the chimes of a retail war, the battleground isn’t the distance between each combatant, it’s in the way you treat your customers. As discounts blaze, the real fighting should be about treating every precious customer as a king. It means training and training to get that end effect. It means holding everyone accountable for their actions. It means constantly monitoring interactions to make sure every hello and thank you is loaded into your service weaponry.
Randall’s used to greet you by name after you checked out and thanked you for shopping, reminding you of how much you saved by being a valued customer. Not so much anymore.
Don’t ever get confused by the fog of a competitive war, the battlefield is ALWAYS in your ability to consistently create a DAZZLING experience. After all, a ¼ of a mile ain’t that far!