KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-news - since 2002
18th August 2017
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Soapbox: Celebrate being truly independent
Writes Bill Miller, Managing Director, Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group
"Being a truly independent kitchen or bathroom specialist is something to be cherished and celebrated. It is essential that we constantly promote the many advantages we hold over our multiple competitors. We are the true specialists of our industry, offering a wealth of knowledge and expertise, as well as a distinctive atmosphere of warmth and intimacy that is so lacking in multiple outlets.
We work hard to satisfy our customers and retain their loyalty. We offer a level of personal service and customer care that our competitors can't even begin to match. These are virtues that are worth trumpeting.
We are also a vital part of the local community, usually living within the heart of it. The presence of independent retailer the high street, especially if they link together in a pro-active way, is of paramount importance in creating an atmosphere of variety and vibrancy. Do we really want the drab uniformity of one high street looking exactly like another? As true independents, we bring vitality, imagination and choice to the retailing mix. Nothing beats our personal touch, which the multiples simply can't begin to replicate. The level of attention and loyalty that we offer is permanent. Our businesses rely on customer recommendations and we want our customers to enjoy their experience and come back to us time after time.
There is a strange contradiction where consumers and independent outlets are concerned.
People much prefer the atmosphere and the service that we provide, yet they cannot resist the convenience and perception of lower price offered by the multiples. Most of us, when in 'consumer' mode, experience this test of our loyalties, which is why it is essential for independent kitchen and bathroom specialists to shout their credentials from the rooftop and not simply be content with the status quo. How often can you find specialist knowledge in the multiples? Their primary objective is to sell products in volume and keep their customers moving. The hurly-burly, rushed environment is hardly conducive to a quiet and personal consultation. Yes, the prices may be cheaper (but not always), but so is the old adage, you get what you pay for.
Independent kitchen and bathroom specialists aren't self-serving, we give plenty back to the community. We are far more accountable to our customers and therefore more diligent and thoughtful in the way we operate and treat the environment. We generate considerable local income as well as jobs and wealth. Remember that all the money from multiple outlets goes straight back to head office, and sometimes an international one. The only money flowing through the local economy is via their staff wages. These facts are well worth remembering, because many people don't understand the many beneficial impacts of what we do.
Now is the time to promote ourselves, as we have never done before. Many consumers still continue to look no further than their nearest national retail chain to make their next big ticket purchase. However there is growing shift in the tide of consumer preference. Numerous retail surveys have charted the emergence of a new breed of more informed and independent-minded consumer, who wants to be different, that isn't so inclined to use brand loyalty or price as their yardsticks. They want products and demand a high level of service with a difference that makes them feel special.
This trend offers some real opportunities for enterprising independent specialists who seek to be similarly different and imaginative in their product offering. That is why there is no better time to advertise and promote via the many media available, including social media. Don't be afraid to embrace existing and emerging technologies, because they can open new and very profitable gateways.
Engage with your customers and local community via social media and interact regularly, why not invite local community groups to hold one of their meetings in your showroom. Encourage them to 'like' your web site and to spread the word about your business. Don't forget that many people who buy the product of their dreams from your store will want to tell their friends all about it. This is something that the multiples cannot do nearly as well as we can. The warmth and the intimacy simply aren't there. It is a fantastic way to build your brand loyalty.
Never forget that you are a genuine independent specialist with top value add-ons into the bargain. Being a member of the KBBG - part of the Der Kreis buying group - gives you additional and substantial muscle. Der Kreis is one of the largest kitchen and bathroom buying groups in Europe, fully supported by some of the most substantial and best known kitchen suppliers. We support our members through improved buying conditions, unique and exclusive offers from our partner suppliers, as well as generous bonus opportunities.
As a member, you remain fully independent, retaining your own identity, whilst enjoying purchasing advantages, product marketing with distinctive private labels, the best buying terms and conditions, as well as training and seminars and information on our internal InfoNet system."
30th October 2015