With large nationwide chains that dominate the market, small hardware stores sometimes have a difficult time being competitive. The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your business and to capitalize on it so customers see the value in choosing you over one of the bigger stores. Here are some great ways to make your business stand out.
- Giveaways -When your store first opens (or even if you're just looking for an extra push), offer small giveaways to your customers with their purchase. These will be tools or products they can use that are branded with your store's information-hammers, tape measures, levels, etc. When a customer is using this product and runs out of something or determines the need to visit a hardware store, they'll see your information and immediately head your way!
- In-Store Classes -Hardware stores often form a bit of a culture and social atmosphere, so find ways to play this up. One great choice is to sponsor training classes and educational seminars in your store. Work with your vendors to provide information that your customers will find valuable. Even your employees can instruct these classes-anything from minor home renovation products to full-scale remodeling. List the classes you're offering that month above your cash registers with a large, visible vinyl banner which clearly-informs customers of their opportunities to expand their skills.
- Charity Donations -Offer your products to charity groups and organizations in-town which build or repair homes for the less-fortunate. This is great PR for your business, it makes you look more-credible, and in return you're often able to advertise at the home-site using a banner or yard sign. When customers see that you're giving back to your community, they are more-inclined to shop with you.
- Ladies Night -Most hardware stores predominantly-market towards men. While the majority of your customers are probably male, do not neglect the ladies. Host a "Ladies Night" at your store that offers your educational classes and even a special discount on purchases made by women. Use removable window clings to give your store a slight feminine touch. There's a huge potential market here that is somewhat-untapped, and with the right approach, female customers can dramatically affect your business.
- Personal Shoppers -Some customers complain that hardware or home improvement stores are overwhelming. Counter this objection by providing customers with a personal shopping service. Your employees already help customers find products daily anyway, but creating a formal program provides a revenue opportunity. Customers can have one of your employees guide them around the store and help them find exactly what they need for their project, or for even-more convenience, your employee can preselect the products they need so that when the customer arrives, all they have to do is check out.