It's funny how some articles 'stick' and others don't. A friend of mine sent me a link to David Pouge's NY Times blog entery yesterday about CompUSA and how they are closing about half their stores nationwide. I have to admit to being a CompUSA customer and have purchased several "things" there over the years, but I also admit that in the last 5 or so years, I have not been a fan of the local store (or the company in general).
But here's my real point - it is obvious that CompUSA is in trouble (financially - but hard to determine because they are a private company), they need to cut expenses so closing stores and dumping a bunch of people out on the streets seems like a "great" corporate thing to do from a business perspective. But here's the problem, they are not fixing the anything - they have sunk to the lowest and easiest business decision - cut costs, get rid of real estate, get rid of people, slash corporate positions, etc. and so on.
All you have to do is read the 200+ comments associated with the blog entry and you get a sense of what's wrong with CompUSA - they don't have a "cost" problem, they have a "customer" problem. Reading the comments, it will become obvious that CompUSA does not really like their customers - oh, they like the customer's money, but not so much the customers themselves. If you like your customers, you would train your salespeople to be helpful. You would pay your employees better, so in turn, they treat the customers better. You would have prices that reflect "competitiveness" not price gouging. You would treat your customers with respect.
Here are few mental notes:
1. You can charge higher prices if you provide a better experience (everything from knowledge transfer, to smiling, to thank yous, to return policies, etc.)
2. You can have crappy service, if you provide the lowest prices in town
3. You can treat people bad once (maybe twice) before they won't return again.
4. You can never expect people to continue to buy products/services from you - you have to earn it with every transaction - there are too many other companies out there that want your customers - and being local only counts for so much.
Note: I found this interesting, when you go their About Us page, look at their 'significant events timeline' page, it has no mention of closing half their stores - I would believe this qualifies as a 'significant event' or 'milestone' ;-)