Whenever heading back from a cottage or fishing trip, I used to stop by a custom antique furniture shop about an hour north off Toronto. The owner of the shop was a retired carpenter and in his spare time utilized his woodworking skills to create custom furniture and accents out of salvaged and reclaimed wood. He always had unique looking creations that caught the eye.
I had a small conversation with him once about advertising and selling his items online. He mentioned to me that he had thought about using some of the online auction websites, such as eBay, but admitted that he wasn’t very technologically inclined. A year or so later, I stopped by the shop again, to find a sign on the front door stating that the unit was up for lease and if anyone was still interested in custom woodworks to visit the website stated below.
When I got home, I logged onto the website out of curiosity and to my surprise, the well-designed and flash-integrated website stated that the shop had moved to Chicago to service clients in the U.S., due to popular demand. The website offered items for sale through an integrated online shopping cart, which included shipment tracking. What really surprised me though, was the custom furniture design application on the website that allowed customers to design furniture pieces and select custom finishes and dimensions.
In this rapidly-changing economy, business owners have to be on their toes to provide better, faster, lower-priced, efficient and effective products and services to meet the ever-increasing customer demands. It’s difficult and near impossible to predict future trends and market movements, but establishing effective change management can help prepare a company for those sudden changes.
As the antique furniture shop owner demonstrated, business owners must continuously analyze customer needs to stay current with trends and demands. The business owner has to know where the market is heading and offer products and services that keep with current trends to stay ahead of competition and market shifts.
For more ideas on how to innovate by knowing the customer, listen to episode 105 of the Business Coach podcast series.