Earlier this year I was considering getting vinyl siding for my home. The first thing I did was go online. I went on Facebook and asked friends for recommendations. I googled local companies. Whenever possible I use local companies. When I say local I mean locally operated. Not necessarily locally owned because sometimes that’s not an option. But I look for companies who support my community. Who give back. I shop at so-called big box stores but it’s definitely not my first choice.
Out of 4 companies I contacted online I received a variety of answers. One company immediately emailed me back (and not an automated response either) and told me the name of the staff person who would be contacting me. One company never contacted me. Two other companies didn’t contact me, they just provided a quote via email. Now I had a price in mind of what I would likely be paying. Two of the companies came in around the same price. One came in at ½ price which surprised me. When I investigated I discovered they hadn’t included the price of the materials. I had to price that on my own. An extra step that was buried in the fine print. The company I was going to choose took some time with me. They emailed and contacted me. They asked questions to make sure they would be providing an accurate quote. Sure it took more time. More time from them and more time from me. But that simple act told me that they were putting me first, not profits. Yes their price was slightly higher. I have no problem paying for better service when I can afford it.
I did the same thing when I had to replace my furnace. I didn’t go with the lowest price, I went with the best service which starts with who answers the phone. And I let the local business owner know that his staff impressed me. I was able to do that. Didn’t have to call a toll-free number.
For some reason consumers, the buyers of products and services throughout the city seem to accept bad service. As if they don’t have a choice. We accept only 1 payment option. We accept only one-way to do a job. Employees tell me they have to follow the policies. I am not a policy. I do not fit into a neat little box. Stop treating me as if I’m the same as everyone else.
I get that policies and procedures are put in place for a reason. But too often the larger a company gets, whether locally operated or not, their front-line staff has to do things one way only. I sold my businesses in 2016 because of the stress ownership was taking on my body. The company I work for now is world-wide. But the management is smart enough to realize that what works in Toronto doesn’t work in the Soo. And so I’m given some flexibility with providing my products and services.
I just spent two weeks looking to get a tattoo done. One business said that the person I wanted was no longer taking appointments. Another business had no office hours posted on-line. When I contacted them they never got back to me. Another business had the wrong street address online so when I went looking for them I couldn’t find them. I will not deal with those businesses, no matter how good or how cheap their services may be. I am a person. I deserve respect and some of your time when I’m spending money in your store.
I would rather buy a t-shirt for $10 from a locally owned/operated business that’s made in Canada and is going to last longer than a $4.00 t-shirt that’s been made in China. I understand budgets. But stop complaining about not having a choice when you’re paying the cheapest price and that money is going out of town. Lowe’s and Sears closed here. That decision was made at a corporate head office and had nothing to do with the affect those closures would have on the community. It all came down to economics. I understand that businesses have to make a profit. I did when I was self-employed. But how much profit is enough?
Online businesses make billions and pay minimal taxes. Because politicians think it’s more important to have lots of people at minimum wage than it is to have less people working higher paying jobs. So a smaller company hiring only 20 people doesn’t get the attention or financial support that large companies do. For some reason it’s beneath people to work at fast food chains. Or call centres. Or labour. It’s not. If you like your job and you can live a decent life then that’s all that truly matters. Took me 48 years to figure that out (yes my parents were right when I was younger and picking what degree I would get). I owned businesses because I wanted to be the boss. It almost killed me.
It’s the local brick-and-mortar stores that pay property taxes and pay employees who live here. Employees that are consumers themselves.
Amazon doesn’t support your kid’s hockey team. Local business owners do. Stop complaining that there’s nothing here when there is and you just don’t want to support it.
I now have to purchase a vehicle. That’s gonna be even more fun than siding, furnaces and tattoos. Stay tuned.