Just about everything! Let me elaborate.
In April of this year, I was traveling with my wife, in South Carolina. I was near the coast, on a bit of a country road and somewhat off the beaten trail. It was around noon and we were hungry.
It was then that we came upon a small roadside restaurant named “The Shrimp Shack” with tons of cars parked outside along with a battery of picnic tables. How bad could it be . . . so we gave it a try.
So like everyone else, we stood in line to give our order to the girl behind the window. Our order was formulated from the menu printed on the wall. She took our order, our money and our name and instructed us to take a seat on the wooden benches near the order window.
I began to speculate that we had made a dreadful mistake. But there were so many people eating outside on picnic tables along with lots of customers leaving with takeout orders.
Fifteen minutes later I hear “Brown,” we collected our bag of goodies and took a table outside along with all the other customers. Within two or three minutes, I knew the answer about what’s so special about the Shrimp Shack . . . EVERYTHING!
The food was absolutely delicious! The portions were generous and the accoutrements were perfect. Our experience there was so special, we took a bag in the car so we could snack on our drive back.
Tackle lessons to go
So what does the Shrimp Shack have to do with fishing tackle? From a retailing perspective, there is much to be learned from this experience. In that part of the south you can purchase shrimp from thousands of eateries; competition is enormous. Yet this little “joint” next to a country road was really hopping with lots of eat in and take out customers.
They specialized in delivering delicious shrimp, in a large variety of dishes, at competitive prices and they clearly understood their customers and how to please them!
In the restaurant industry, like the fishing tackle industry, competition is prolific. As a retailer, it’s easy to lose your identity and customers unless you have a clear point of differentiation from the others in the pack and a solid reason for the consumers to shop with you versus the competition.
If you expect to succeed in the face of a competitive environment, then you must have either the best location, selection, prices, customer service, incentives or other forms of attraction in order to survive.
The Shrimp Shack was succeeding in the face of stiff competition because they put it all together: great food, fast service, sharp prices and an original environment. If you operate a tackle/sporting goods store, ask yourself what, if anything, makes your store standout? Unless you can clearly say, we have the best ________ and the finest ________ and etc. then you are leaving opportunity and money on the table.
Self-introspection and evaluation is hard and sometimes uncomfortable to do. But if you want to get ahead in this competitive industry, then you must do it. If you don’t have the time, inclination or experience to grade your operation, then invest in a qualified consultant to generate your report card relative to your competitors. It is worth the time, effort and expense to know your competitive realities.
By the way, I would revisit The Shrimp Shack in a heartbeat!