The article examines how the family-owned, regional consumer electronics chain P.C. Richard & Son is expanding beyond its New York strong-hold into new local markets recently abandoned by the bankrupt national chain Circuit City.
The century old company, now run by a fourth generation Richard family executives, seems poised for success based on several smart retail business factors:
- Extensive product selection
- Emphasis on name brand merchandise
- Low price guarantee
- Well trained employees - Across all departments!
- After sales customer support
"Circuit City's decision to lay off its most experienced sales workers in 2007 and replace them with lower-paid staff are among the reasons touted for the company's demise. Angry customers abandoned the retailer."
I remember when Circuit City first announced this policy and saying to myself, "This will be a public relations nightmare." The company did give long time employees the option of accepting a 50% pay cut, but that was a "thanks for nothing" offer.
What the Circuit City bean counters failed to take into consideration was the community relations meltdown that this policy caused.
Let's face it, even national chains are community businesses in the respect that they employ people from the surrounding community. Other than store managers, the majority of rank and file retail employees live only a few miles from the store.
If you live in the same community as a Circuit City location, the people the chain laid off were very likely to be your friends, children, spouses, etc.
This six degrees of separation ignited a negative word of mouth brush fire that helped to reduce one of the country's leading retailers to ashes.
I don't believe that average person wants to support a business that obviously screws other people - especially people they know and especially when they can easily take their business to another retailer down the road or on the Internet for that matter.
Now even if a shopper were oblivious to the announced Circuit City "employee bait and switch program" they surely noticed a lack of product knowledge on the part of the newer, lower paid employees - As the old saying goes, "They stayed away in droves."
What does this all mean to a dentist or any small business owner for that matter? First of all, your professional reputation and standing in the community depend heavily on word of mouth.
There's always going to to be a former disgruntled employee who will badmouth you at any given opportunity. However, if your business is a revolving door churning out legions of naysayers, something is definitely wrong.
Better hire a management consultant or remove yourself or your general manager from day-to-day employee contact.
Secondly, do your best to hire, train and retain the most qualified people possible in order to provide your customers with the highest level of customer service - The community will take notice and patronize your business.