Monday, February 09, 2015

How to go broke

New Zealand has an object lesson in how to run a business so that it’s certain to go bust. That company is called Repco, and it's utterly doomed. You heard it here first: Without a dramatic change in its leadership, Repco will certainly die. And, it should.

I became aware of this because I needed a battery for my car. Repco’s website has—well, nothing of any use whatsoever. Literally nothing. Super Cheap Auto, on the other hand, has ample help for selecting the right battery—and it can also be ordered online, while Repco hates the very idea of online ordering: Repco says, “bricks and mortar or bust”. Apparently, “bust” is the operative word.

In store, Repco couldn’t say what battery was right for my car. “Take a picture of it,” was their best advice. Over at Super Cheap Auto, they had iPads where customers could enter the make and model of their car and end up with the correct battery, no photo required. My battery was purchased from Super Cheap Auto. Of course.

The lessons in this tale are SO bloody obvious that I shouldn’t even have to mention them, but here we go: A business that wants to survive (let alone thrive) has to be where the customer is, ready and able to meet their needs wherever and whenever they are. A successful business must make it easy for customers to spend money with them, and it must make that whole purchasing experience positive. Repco failed on every single one of these criteria, and Super Cheap Auto succeeded on them all.

I could add that most of Super Cheap Auto’s advertising is on TV, where its customers are, and Repco relies on fliers in letterboxes that few people ever read any more. Just another example of a company that meets its market, as opposed to one that shuns it.

If a business is hopelessly incompetent, completely unable or unwilling to adapt to its customers’ needs, then, like so many other customers, I’ll simply and easily switch to the competitor that better meets my needs.

This isn’t “rocket science”—it’s basic, fundamental and easy customer service. If Repco can’t or refuses to meet the needs of customers, then it deserves to die. If it does, it has no one to blame but itself.

Footnote: Several years ago, I bought a car battery jump starter from Repco, but then I misplaced the AC adapter needed to charge it. There was no information included with the Repco-branded product to tell me about the adapter (polarity, etc,), and there was nothing whatsoever on the website. So, I used the contact form on the Repco website to ask them about it—a simple question, really. It’s now several years later, and I still haven’t received a reply. Enough said.


rogerogreen said...

Speaking of "bust", Radio Shack is on the way out. I need to go there and get some doodads before it closes.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I read that, and it made me sad, actually. It used to be the place to get those "doodads" that no other store had. I guess the Internet has replaced them, except you can't get some of those things immediately anymore. Plus, back in the earliest days of the personal computer, I could go to Radio Shack and gawk at one.