One of the biggest reasons a small business can succeed when a large corporation can’t is its ability to act fast, and give customers exactly what they want when they want it.

The newest Office Depot commercial showcases this well. When a new chain hair salon moves in across the street from a small barbershop, and offers a $6 haircut, the small business owner doesn’t get worried, he adjusts his marketing. With a simple sign, “We fix $6 haircuts” he soon puts the chain hair salon out of business.

Unrealistic? Maybe. But the concept is a great one to learn for your own business.

If you’ve never had your portrait taken at a chain location, I would highly suggest heading out and living the experience. Bring in a coupon from the newspaper or your mailbox, and head in for the experience. Don’t go during off hours, head in during peak time, like Saturday afternoon. Take mental notes along the way of how you do things differently, how you can improve in certain areas, and how you can market yourself to overcome the experiences at this chain location.

For example, how long did you have to wait for your portrait? If you sat in a crowded room for over an hour, watching small babies get fussy and cry, you just found your first marketing benefit.

You’ll never wait in a crowded waiting room – our work is by appointment only, and we make you the center of our attention.

Take the bad from what people normally experience, and turn it into a positive.

By doing this, you’ll find so many ways to jump ahead of your competition, especially the large chains that can’t react quickly without bringing head management into the picture. Remember, they just hire minimum wage workers to snap a picture and sell as much as they can. You’re in it to build a relationship for life, and be customer focused through it all.

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