virgin islands scene

In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.
-- Flora Edwards


Sunday, December 10, 1995


I went shopping yesterday for some children’s computer software. I’ve found that the best prices and selection are at Best Buy, a large nationwide electronics and appliance chain. When I pulled into the Best Buy parking lot, however, there was not a single parking space to be found. And there were four or five other people cruising around looking for places. So I drove on around the corner and finally found a spot a good distance away -- right in front of Egghead Software.

Never having been in Egghead, I decided that as long as I was there, I would look there first before walking down to Best Buy. They had a fairly good selection of the kind of thing I was looking for, and I made a note of their prices before continuing on to Best Buy.

Once I got to Best Buy I discovered that they had an even better selection, and much better prices. At Egghead, Kid Pix Studio was about $42. At Best Buy, they had Kid Pix Studio bundled with Amazing Writer, at $47 for the pair. That’s what I got.

That started me to wondering. How could Egghead stay in business if Best Buy, just around the corner, offers more selection and lower prices? So I walked back to the car, put my purchase in the trunk, and went back into Egghead, just to “hang around.” It didn’t take me long to understand what their secret was.

In a word -- Service. At the large Best Buy “warehouse", you’re pretty much on your own. Unless you’re already knowledgeable about what you want, you’re out of luck. On Saturday two weeks before Christmas, you’re simply not going to get anyone to explain anything to you. You’re lucky if you can just find the price of the item you’re interested in.

At Egghead, it’s a whole different scenario. When you walk in the door, you’re greeted by someone who personally escorts you to the area that you’re interested in. There are knowledgeable people to answer your questions and make recommendatons. I overheard several conversations where the sales clerk patiently explained things like features and system requirements very accurately and politely. Though I didn’t buy anything from Egghead, there were plenty of people during my visit who did.

The big discount chains have changed the nature of retailing. And now there’s also mail order shopping, shopping on television, and of course over the Internet. How will it all end up? Who knows?

There is one thing that is certain. Personable, knowledgeable service, whether it’s delivered in person, over the phone or over the Internet, will always be necessary. And people will be willing to pay for it.

How does the “small guy” survive in a fiercely competitive marketplace? With service. Never has this been more apparent that now, with the ever-growing complexity of life. If you can find a way to deliver unmatched service, and find a way to make sure you get paid for it (so people don’t say “I’ll think about it” and then go down the street to the discount store), then your future will be bright indeed.

— Ralph Marston

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Copyright ©1995 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Motivator is provided for your personal, non-commercial use only. Other than personal sharing, please do not re-distribute without permission.