Take Advantage of Change
One summer the state decided to replace a bridge 1,500 yards from our business, which would pretty much kill traffic past our store for three months. The only way customers could get to us was to travel 12 miles out of their way, each way. We could not control what the state was going to do, but we could control what we did to market to our customers and persuade them to go the 24 miles out of their way to buy from us. Those three months turned out to be the most our most successful.
Turning Negatives into Positives
In the winter of 1984 our electronics store was robbed. Televisions and displays were broken; windows were smashed. I immediately remembered my father always saying, “The successful businesspeople turn negatives into positives.” I telephoned the local newspaper and radio stations. They are always hungry for a sensational story. They dispatched reporters and photographers. There we were the next day on the front page of the newspaper and the lead story all day long on the local news. I turned the negative burglary into a positive by gaining free advertising. I followed up the next day with a successful burglary sale.
There came a time when we had to grow our tire business. To gain new customers I sat outside the Firestone and Goodyear and wrote down the names and phone numbers of their customers. They were on the doors of the trucks. I contacted each of them and asked two questions: What do you like best about the buying and service experience of the two and, most important, what do you like least?
Unanimously, they disliked wasting time waiting for their tires to be fixed or replaced. Our competitors opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m., the hours that truckers had to be on the road making money.