How to do it? By being smart and creative.
Lynch Hummer has been in business for 15 years, but these days it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business. For the past two years, the automobile industry hadn’t been kind to Hummer dealers and the “cash for clunkers” program wasn’t for their customer.
Also, unverified reports on gas mileage are anywhere from 8-12.5 miles per gallon. But does that really matter? People don’t buy Hummers because of the gas mileage; they buy them because they love them.
After seeing Jim Lynch on CNN, I decided to take a chance and see if he would chat with me. I was a little amazed and delighted that he would talk to me.
My question to Jim was: Why guns?
"In order to thrive during these challenging economic times, I need to expand my business and find a product that will appeal to my customers," he says. "Many of my customers are big sportsmen, love skeet shooting, so why not add this product to my mix?"
Lynch adds that Lynch Hummer sits on about 7 acres and has an additional off-road course of another 30 acres behind the building.
A natural for Lynch: guns and cars. Lynch had to get a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in order to sell the weapons but business is booming. Lynch also consulted with law enforcement and hired a gun expert. It is obvious that Lynch is serious.
Guns you say, really?
Sound foolish or a little strange? Let’s see, there’s Starbucks and music, that didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense but their customers love it. Nothing is strange if you know your customer. Does it matter what you choose? Of course it matters, and Lynch is smart. He is building solid, customer loyalty built on solid marketing strategies.
What’s the trick? Simple: find out what your customers want and give it to them.
Lynch will win some and lose some but in business that’s the way it is. The key is to decide who your customer base is and go for it. Advertising is too expensive “to throw some against the wall and see if it sticks.” You know the old phrase, “50% of advertising works and 50% doesn’t, and the problem is which is which?"
Making a move without discussing it with your customers can have serious effects on your business. Consider CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, who decided to voice his personal opinions about health care and now finds himself "a few customers short" according to ABC News. Not a problem if you have enough to support your bottom line, but still risky. In my book, “Red Hot Customer Service” I refer to a basic marketing strategy about how to talk to your core customers before making a change.
So how does Lynch determine what's right for his business?
- Be creative, survey your customers: ask what they think, what additional products and services would they be likely to buy?
- Examine your own likes and dislikes; find something that you believe in and you like; remember, you spend a lot of time at work.
- Consult experts in the field; let your customers know you’re serious and you want to do it right.
To be effective in business, you’ve got to pick your customers. The right customers will be loyal and refer you to their friends.
- Create your niche; the danger is that your niche is very narrowing and eliminates additional customers that you really want.
Not a gun or Hummer advocate? It doesn’t matter; you’re not the right customer for Lynch Hummer!