Thoughts on Mom & Pop Shops

Trav Harmon posted this picture on his Facebook page today.
This is all true and if you’ve been following me for long, you know that I have a special place in my heart for small business and that given the choice, I always choose to work with small companies rather than large companies. However, that doesn’t mean that I (or you) should always buy from a small business. I prefer to bank with a large bank rather than Vinnie’s Corner Piggy Bank. I know, FDIC, big banks fail, and all that, but I’m more comfortable with a big bank. Elaine tends to shop at larger stores, but when shopping for something important like a mother of the groom dress, tends to look for personal treatment.
So, why am I writing? What’s the point?
It bugs me when prospects pick a small business owner’s brain to educate themselves then buys from a big company because they get a better price or terms.
It bugs me when a salesperson for a big company steals a customer from a small business because they’re a better trained salesperson then the small business owner.
It bugs me that big companies sometimes thrive despite their inefficiencies, lack of caring and crappy customer service because they have bigger marketing budgets.
But, the internet has changed the world and Mom and Pop shops can compete if they are willing to learn how. Learn what a prospect’s needs are. What their priorities are. What their intentions are. What their strategies and personas are. Mom and pops can use the advantage of being small to adapt quicker. Be more flexible. Reactive. Responsive. Mom and Pops have the advantage of NOT having a sales manager and a marketing manager arguing over turf and blame. They often have one person that switches between the sales hat and the marketing hat. My suggestion? Throw both hats away and get a Smarketing hat. Mom and Pops have a much easier time of integrating their sales and marketing processes and with a little help can get big results within a couple of months if they get the right kind of personal attention.
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11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mom & Pop Shops

  1. Rick, you know that at the heart of this post I agree with you. What frustrates me are small businesses that think small, and therefore stay small. The essence of success for small business is the customer, as Trav pointed out. I also saw this on Facebook. A lot of businesses say they are customer-focused, just like a lot of them say ‘of course sales and marketing are aligned’. when you ask them, ‘what does 6 months, 1 year from now look like’, and the reply is a dollar amount to the penny, how does that prove that you are customer-focused? Every business needs financial metrics to stay operating. But real results only happen when the customer says- you are the right one for me and everyone I know.That is customer value. That is why small business actually has an advantage over the big guys. Unfortunately, most don’t know it, and they continue to think small, and then they become a statistic instead of a case study.I better save the rest for this weekend’s blog post.

  2. Thinking small the right way isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lifestyle businesses can make for very happy lives. Some business owners don’t want to do the things that are necessary for world domination. Step one, for me, when talking with a business owner is to find out if their mindset is ‘scalable to world domination’ or ‘maximum efficiency to attain lifestyle’. If it’s neither, they’re a statistic and I leave them alone. If it’s the former, I’ll help to a degree, but if the business owner truly wants a lifestyle business, I’ll help them capitalize on their strengths, overcome weaknesses and obstacles, develop a plan, identify and attract ideal prospects, and move them through the process that turns prospects into customers, customers into evangelists and evangelists into sustained, long term business growth.

    (Get down off my soap box.)

  3. I almost feel like “Smarketing” is becoming a buzz word that people (not you) are bandying about to appear hip and cool. Here’s the bottom line. If a business owner needs to make a sale, he has to figure out what it’s going to take to get it. Radio guys talk about how many ears they’ve got. TV talks about viewers. Print publications talk about readers. Internet people talk about page views, clicks, conversions. This isn’t what the small business owner wants. He wants a freakin’ sale. Not 10,000 viewers for no sale doesn’t do it. 100,000 visits on his website without sales doesn’t do it. Any plan has to be integrated using assets and means to produce revenue and sustained growth from day one or it is doomed to failure.

  4. Rick, I am with you on several things you said. Small business is where it’s at, but what is small business to me may be big business to others. This could be part of the problem. Everywhere you turn there is a personally definition of what a small business is or what smarketing is or what integration is. In the end, my ideal customer is going to be one looking for growth, customer development, evangelism creation, increased profits so we can continue to build their lifestyle into a machine that is sustainable. Sustainable for as long as they want it. And hopefully help them turn it into something the CEO can not only retire from, but sell, cash out from and all the while continuing living their dream lifestyle! That is what I want my clients to look like. Any takers?

  5. “When you buy from a mom or pop business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home.” Nor are you helping the approximate 58 million Americans who work for “large corporations”. By shopping exclusively with “mom and pop”, you are playing a role in the liberal guilt-trip on the American consumer that demonizes the successful at the expense of everybody else. Sure, the CEO may be a sleaze, but the guy in the mailroom needs his paycheck and benefits package, too.
    Yes, Mom and Pop start-ups create more jobs, but they also lose them just as quickly. The longevity of a business, which is almost always marked by growth (ie small business moving towards “bigness”) is a better indicator of job security, better pay and benefits. Will you turn your back on Mom and Pop when they get too big? What is the cut-off between your support of Mom and Pop and your vilification of “Big Business”? Instead of “too big to fail” are you promoting a “too big to succeed” policy for the American economy?
    “You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom or dad put food on the table, or a student pay for college.” Sure, and we all know that none of the 58 million Americans who draw their income from “Big Business” are working to get any of these things for themselves or their family. Only Mom and Pop love their kids. The corporate drones in the call centers, mailrooms, and factories across the country could care less about their children!
    “Our customers are our shareholders and they are the ones we strive to make happy.” Because Mom and Pop don’t care about turning a profit! Heck, they will just give their goods and services away! It’s only those evil corporations who expect to actually get paid enough for what they do that they can stay in business and keep funding the 401k’s, pensions, and health insurance benefits for their employees that want to make money. Thugs!
    “Thank you for supporting small business.” But don’t support it so much that we become a big business, we‘ll have to close up shop.

  6. Thank you, Joe. Looks like we agree that there are benefits from buying from both and that we get to choose when, where and why we put our dollars.

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