The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

Smarten Up Niagara!

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Are you the tallest nail in your industry? The one that gets hit for standing out while everyone else is comfortable keeping their heads down?

This article's for you.


Would you sell your business for less that what you thought it was worth ???

Would you give all your expert knowledge to a competitor for free!?

Would you sell your best selling product at a loss ? or your most expensive product at a loss?

When you buy a product at a national chain store don't you expect to pay the same price at all the stores?

Would you tell a client – “no problem I won’t charge you for the work I’ve done or the service I’ve provided” even when there were no problems ! ?

In the past 10 years I have been watching exactly this type of “business suicide” go on all over the Niagara region!

In my capacity as a consultant for both the hospitality trade and the special event rental industry, I have contacted literally thousands of business from Fort Erie to Hamilton, I have spoken with staff and owners of all types of operations; and in that conversation, two things have stunned me!

We devalue our services & goods and we have so little customer training for ourselves and our staff that neither seems to value the goods or services their companies supply or the customers to whom they sell those goods and services.

What do I mean by these statements:

Devaluation - everything a company does has a value – those companies that take the time to research the value of the things a company has and does; from the staff to managers, to COO’s; from office décor to light bulb purchase has a value!

Where do you put that value? Into the “goods and services bank” – a supply and demand account, that should determine you should both buy and sell your supplies and products at a competitive pricing.

This account is the same whether you are in Niagara or in Oakville, Stevensville or Hamilton. If your selling “widgets” or information on how to build a “basic Widget” here or there, in most cases you pay the same for the parts – the production and the labor/wage the hydro and water the gas the repairs and maintenance for your building/ office supplies etc.

With this in mind you should be valuing your product the same as all other suppliers no mater where they are in the region - but this is not the case!

If you go past the boundary of Stoney Creek you can see it in the costs to consumers; but it is never more evident than when you are selling a specialty service.

No one in Niagara seems to value their product and services the same as those in areas to the north.

Competition is the essence of commerce, but if you give away your product in the false assumption that a lower price will get more business, when others charge fair and reasonable prices, you DEVALUE the good and service and as a result you can not maintain your growth potential and a high level of service. The money just is not there! Yes you can struggle month over month to met the obligations and try to meet customer service needs – but you just won’t do it !

Niagara and the area has struggled with this concept for decades. With the expanding market place from Toronto and beyond, and the change in the “destination” value of our region we have to be prepared to meet the demands for better products, more variety, more services, at a Toronto market price.

This is the profit margin it will take to provide the service at a level that we presently only instill in the graduates of our college and University. Our business and service providers need to see the value in this type of action if we are to stop being a “bedroom” community and a “has been” factory area. Owners of business need to step up their game and provide exceptional training to staff, not only in customer service but “up-selling” techniques. Many need to reach the level of service that patrons and businesses (outside of our area ) who are seeking opportunity to do business or to enjoy our goods and service receive in their own areas.

They expect it and they will pay for it!

It is time to become an area not know for devaluing our goods, services and supplies, but one that is up to the times and the style of every major area surrounding a provincial capital.

Why should we be a follower when we can lead? Why should Toronto style take two or more years to come to our area? if we don’t devalue, we don’t have to wait, and neither do our customers.

P.J. Hicks
P.J. Consulting, Niagara


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