Franchising expert offers practical tips to struggling independents

Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

The current series of stories on the challenges facing independent retailers in consumer electronics industry has prompted people from outside the channel to offer their thoughts on the issues. One of these is franchising expert David Holdsworth.

Holdworth is totally independent from any retail group or supplier, and has spend 20 years in operations and senior management, working in marketing and business strategy. This is his message to the independents.

“Retail 101: location, service, promotion, service, product knowledge, service, and a strong value proposition. Focus on delivering value to your consumers; little things like being the most knowledgeable on all your products,” said Holdsworth, who obviously values service.

“Advise consumers all there is to know about the products and how they suit or assist their lifestyle, giving them incredible service, and offering a few little extras. Make very little or zero margin on accessories if you have to, but give them such a great deal, and great service they come back time and time.”

On the matter of smaller or independent stores trying and, in some cases, struggling to compete with the bigger groups, Holdsworth had some leftfield ideas for these retailers to think about.

“Often the smaller stores are not as well set up, not as well laid out and not as well stocked, or don’t carry the range [as the bigger, chain stores]. Some are not very clean – yet they expect to compete.

“Take a few employees, visit a few competitors each, even if they are out of your area, and do a small survey. Check their range, layout, service, offer, prices and, importantly, lighting and cleanliness. Work out what is their value proposition.

“Now the acid test: objectively compare and look for ways to improve your offer and customer value proposition.”

Finally, Holdsworth had a blunt message to the retailers that have commented recently on how uneducated their consumers were.

“Your customers really don’t care how much rent you pay, or how little your margin is. If you can’t deliver them the value they want, they you are uncompetitive, and missing what your customers want.”

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