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A Lot Has Changed In 40 Years.
Some Things Should NEVER Change

A Time of Reflection for Vacuum AND Sewing Dealers

January marked the 40th anniversary of our store. To some, 40 years seems like a long time, but in the scheme of things it's just the blink of an eye. I am not one to look back at the "good old days," though a comparison of the 40 years from 1977 versus 2017 proves enlightening.

In the early years, there was not much communication between vacuum dealers. In many cases, communication was local with one dealer calling another to chew him out for dropping the price on a
product or "stealing" his customer. How far can you throw that rock?

In 1984, I joined the VDTA and was amazed at what I had access to. I went to my first VDTA convention in Las Vegas and was astounded with all the new products. The names of VDTA pioneers Dick Beall, Charlie Dunham, Bernie Epstein, and Fred Biddy quickly were added to my list of people from whom I wanted to learn. Fred Biddy was involved in many seminars, and I think I attended every one. He was always promoting a neat and clean store, peace with your fellow dealer, and thanking your customers. In Fred's case, he would have flowers sent to the customer after their purchase.

  • Many things have changed over time. Who has the #1 market share in our industry now seems to differ every 3-5 years. Brands come and go. Dealers come and go. But some things should never change:
  • Customer service
  • Integrity
  • Neat & clean stores
  • Advertising. It still works. Medias change but you still need to promote.
  • Treat your staff the way you would like to be treated. If it wasn't for your staff, you would not be where you are today. If your staff aren't happy, how are they going to treat customers?
  • VDTA•SDTA: You need to know what's going on in our industry. Attending the convention is one of the highlights of my year.

Reinvent yourself. Reinvent your business. Imagine today if the 1977 American Motors Corporation Pacer were still a cutting edge car design…

Imagine the guys who refuse to change, saying,
"I am not going to sell that junk" when referencing new products on the market. In most cases, they'll have locked their doors and gone home.

Imagine the guys who treat the customer as someone to prey upon have. In most cases, they'll have gone home as well.

When dealing with customers, sometimes we have to swallow our pride and give them the benefit of the doubt...knowing there's plenty of doubt on this one but ok, let's do it. It's all about the lifetime value of the customer. Lots of people don't realize that. Forgive me for saying this, but "It's Retail! There Are Very Few if Any 100% Rules." Like staff, we take care of customers case by case. Everyone is different.

As I end this walk down memory lane, I would like to thank our association president Judy Patterson along with her staff, VDTA•SDTA Chairman Charlie Dunham, magazine editor Tonya Tienter, and our Board of Directors for bringing us great conventions year after year, publishing this magazine, and keeping us in the loop with what's going on in our industry.

I would also like to thank all the people who have taken time out to present VDTA•SDTA seminars over the years. Just know you have helped members succeed in their business. Many of us, including myself, wouldn't be in business today without attending the annual convention and seminars.

'Til next month!

Questions? Comment? E-mail
jimbarnhardt@msn.com

Jim Barnhards




Jim Barnhardt,
J & R Vacuum and Sewing
VDTA•SDTA Board Member

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional & SQE Professional, March 2017