A couple years ago were coming across the border from Montana to Alberta and the roads were atrocious. Honestly I’ve never driven in conditions this bad, it was a complete white out, cars in the ditch, accidents, etc. We were going so slow we could have been sitting still but you couldn’t stop because the people behind wouldn’t see us. You couldn’t pull over, because it was too easy to drive in the ditch.
We finally made it to the border, checked in to this little motel, and somehow found a tiny restaurant for something to eat.
This is where we ran into a couple from Calgary going across the border into the US for some Black Friday sales. The weather was so bad, they had to turn around, which happened just before they closed the border due to road conditions.
What came as most shocking to me is that someone would drive that far for a sale. I’d imagine this is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way because who doesn’t love a sale but I’d like to share anyways.
The truth is small and local businesses are struggling more than ever. It seems like it doesn’t matter how long a business has been open for, they’re shutting down all the same.
The fact of the matter is small businesses need your support, and they certainly can’t keep up with big box stores and their sales espeically at this time of year. We thought about putting a sale on, but there’s not much point when you have a giant company that can put a product on sale cheaper than it costs us to make.
Small companies can however compete in a different ways. For example we send out hand written thank you cards to our customers; we create support groups (and personally manage them), we send private messages and have personal conversations with our customers, clients and hopefully or eventually our friends.
Just the other week I had a friend who purchases our products say, I’d like to order but this is a tough time of year. I said, Look, I don’t want you to order. We’re not here to cause more financial strain, we want you to be comfortable in health which means your stress levels as well. So if finances are difficult, I’d rather you wait until you’re in a better position to purchase.
When it comes to giant corporations, all that matters is the bottom line. I’ve never seen a hand written card, I hardly receive an email response, and sitting on hold for 45 mins listening to a recording that says ‘we value you as a customers’ is hard to believe.
The only way for us, as a small business to compete with the ‘big guys’ is to care more, it’s to put in more effort, go the extra mile. Put in more time and energy into what we do, because it’s the only way we can survive. And at the end of the day I’m proud that we do that each and every day.
So next time you think about the best discount, driving a few hours for a sale or even ordering online from another country instead of supporting a family run business down the street that’s been there for 30 years.
Think about who you’re supporting, what they represent and how much your business really means to them.