How to sell more grills: don't be a twin!
I just finished talking with a retailer whom I thought might be a good grill dealer for us. I was still scratching my head over their comments to me, "We got out of the grill business a year ago, we just can't compete with the big box stores."
That retailer is both right and wrong. Right in the fact that, no, the independent business cannot compete against a large, national retailer based on selling the same lines or types of merchandise for similar price points. Why would any retailer even consider such a move?
However, I believe the retailer is wrong, in that an independent retailer can compete and WIN against the big box retailers on many fronts.
Don't be a twin - differentiate your store
If there are two stores, and they are exactly identical in their price-points and lines, there's really only a need for one of them. Instead, differentiate yourself from the big box stores. Trying to compete on price-alone? They'll eat you alive. What independent retailers need to do is get away from the low to medium price point merchandise and sell higher quality lines not found at big box stores. Specialize in American-made goods. Quit trying to be like them. Forge your own identity.
Upgrade to a higher level customer
Let the price hounds buy their stuff at Wal-Mart, etc. Go after the higher income level consumer. Granted, these folks require more TLC, but they're also the ones with deeper pockets and more willing to purchase better made goods. This strategy may require you to re-orient your thinking-getting used to selling more expensive goods. But it can be done!
Be a full-time, year-round barbecue business
Stock barbecue products all year long. By establishing the fact that your store is in the barbecue business full-time, you'll have an advantage they don't. Consumers DO shop for barbecues outside of the peak selling season of April to August. One retailer who told me they see a decided spike in grill sales when the big box stores clear-out their barbecue merchandise.
Don't leave money on the table
By not having a well-stocked parts department you are leaving money on the table. Grill and barbecue part sales carry margins of fifty percent and higher. In my hometown, I'm hard-pressed to recommend a well stocked barbecue parts retailer when asked. This is an opportunity waiting to happen for ALL of you!
Carry what's new & innovative - be fleet of foot
The word "NEW" is still one of the most powerful marketing and advertising words in the English language. One of the greatest advantages of being an independent retailer is that you can react much more quickly to the changing marketplace and trends, far more quickly than a big corporate bureaucracy can.
These are just a few of the ways independent retailers can carve out their place in the market-in spite of how many big box retailers there are around you. No, it won't necessarily be an instantaneous change, but incrementally, you'll have a much better likelihood of being successful when you do what they can't or won't do. I firmly believe that there is a place for the independent retailer who has a unique identity, unduplicated product lines and knows their stuff. Happy National Barbecue Month!