It doesn’t really matter what you sell. If you are a family-owned small business in direct competition with big-box stores it can feel intimidating — but you have some important advantages. Identifying those advantages and then leveraging them is the key to thriving (and enjoying the journey).
Stop trying to compete based on pricing wars alone. Shoppers are definitely motivated by price and this can be a challenge to compete with if you are a small business. Big-box stores’ size and scope may give them cost advantages with which you may not be able to compete in a price war. Instead, base your success on other important factors such as your personalized service. Remind audiences that you’re a business that truly knows your customers and forms personal connections with them. Share stories frequently about the passion and dedication you’ve put into your business, and that of your team. It really does matter. Show historic photos and share personal quotes.
Stake your claim in terms of location. Because you are a local family-owned business, you know better than corporate decision makers about your community’s climate and the people who live in it. This can be used to your advantage in many areas, including choosing a location. The big-box retailers typically congregate in predictable locales, but that doesn’t mean those are the only places with high visibility, good parking and regular traffic. Find a great location for a less costly price tag.
Respond quickly to customer tastes and trends. Another advantage you have as a local family-owned business is your adaptability. Giant retailers have corporate buyers and can’t always make merchandise decisions or changes quickly. You, on the other hand, are your own buyer. If you need to make a merchandise adjustment, you can do it quickly. Stay in tune with what is selling and what isn’t. If everyone is already offering what you’ve got, go out and find something new and trending.
You can also learn from your big box competitors. What makes them successful and how can you put it to work for you? You can make note of what they seem to have cornered and try to do something a little different. For example, audiences are increasingly more interested in social causes and seeing how business give back. As a family-owned business, you can choose a few key events in which to come alongside area nonprofits without all the corporate red tape. You have more flexibility to show customers that you really are committed to your local community. Find a good cause and partner up for some excellent public relations that helps build a stronger brand impression toward who you are and what you do.
The local community may need big-box stores, but they need family-owned stores too. When local business grows, those profits get reinvested right back in the community. You can thrive as a family-owned business, you just need to remember what sets you apart and focus on those strengths.