The home improvement industry is anchored in tradition. A lot of second- or third-generation owners do things the same ways that their fathers or their grandfathers did. It’s important to honor tradition, of course, but given the rapid way things change, it’s also very important to move forward and to think creatively.
For example, grocery and hardware are great draws for each other. These two product lines are a non-traditional combination. An aggressive owner might study the demographics, assess the demand, mix in a little intuition and decide that it would be a perfect combination for his community. Or take a look at what Cabela’s and Bass Pro have done. They are unique. They took the traditional sporting goods model, added to it, mixed in a high degree of “retail-tainment” and reached new heights. Stores of that size and scope are out of reach for most of us. But it is worth considering, “How do I bring that aggressiveness and a larger vision to my store?”
Perhaps it’s time we borrow a thought from Gene Roddenberry and “Boldly go where no store has gone before.” Think about the needs of your customers. Consider what might benefit them, and oh, by the way, benefit your operation at the same time. For instance, how would a deli work in your store? Your contractor customers need to eat lunch, and what better place for them to do that than at your store while they’re picking up supplies for the afternoon’s jobs?
At first, these kinds of thoughts will probably feel crazy. Allow yourself that luxury. Take a look at where you are now and where you want to go. You may decide that you just can’t get there by following traditional paths. Widen your vision and, at the very least, you’ll have a great time “imagineering” a brighter future.