Where I get gas there is rarely a lineup and I do not have to pump it myself. There are no chocolate bars to buy and the salesman does not push for points. The people running this gas bar have tools and know how should I need them. They are not expensive even! Why is this not the most popular station in town?
Where I get my plumbing supplies is at a store that will sell me just one washer and a nut. They will disassemble and rebuild valves for free. They cut pipe to size. Here too there is rarely a lineup and, like the gas station, when there is a lineup there are intelligent fun people to talk to in front and behind. At the plumbing supply store there is even cartoons to read.
My hardware store of choice is the full of clutter. It is small. It has not failed that the proprietors have been able to answer every odd ball question I have. When the pull cord on my blower that I bought off them jammed they took it without a name tag being filled out and fixed it on site. When there was a salt shortage last year they were one of the few places that had supply and though I was not a regular they willingly took me in and got me through the year.
The towing company I use is obnoxious and surly, just like you expect. Great company. They make me smile every time. The first time I used this company was way back in my life. It was the police that phoned them to have my car towed. No, I had not been drinking. The car was certified and insured. My problem is that the ownership was not turned over. Whilst in the police car the officer kept looking at the progress of the tow truck. When nothing happened for a while he got out of the car to “move the tow company along”. He wanted me to walk home as part of my punishment I guess. The officer returned to the car exasperated saying “you are a lucky guy, he is waiting to give you a ride home” See what I mean, this company is surly at all the right times and to the right people.
My brothers’ businesses all have many of the same character traits as the above and I love them for it. Like the latter they have found their niche. Of these examples some have money some don’t but all are successful. They are all local and independent. Though every business has to think about their bottom line and profits these businesses do not let this process cloud who they are and the important relationships they have formed.
When I go to a self serve gas station there is always a feeling of being disjointed from them. There is no relationship and no personality to be felt. It is odd that so many businesses in their planning actually contrive to remove the interaction of people. Drive thrus, pay at pump, on line shopping and ABMs are but a few examples. In the case of the “pay at pump” gas stations with variety stores there is a very noticeable difference in the sales in the stores. They may be able to staff the store with fewer more inexperienced people, people who would not know how to check oil and advise on type, but they in the end will continue to lose revenue from the store. These revenues likely have bigger margins than gas too. If you build a bypass around a town to lessen the traffic the town will be affected.
Advise from this column? None. I write some observations is all. I will say that relationships are where it is at and these take work, on both sides.