If you are in business today, you are affected by the recession, no question. I have noticed all the wonderful things that we have enjoyed over the years slowly going away. For example, we have had our choice of banks to bookstores, and now it seems every time you turn around more of those familiar doors are closing, forever! They have become so commonplace these past few years that we are becoming immune to it – but here is something that is of great concern to me. Where are all the small businesses going? What if all or the majority of them go away? Small locally owned businesses are the very reason cities were born, and prosper. I am seeing larger corporations swallow smaller ones every day, including our records management industry. For example, local Company customer A was purchased by national Company B and they no longer see the need to use the local records management company as they want to use ONE vendor “to make it easier” for billing. Can anyone say “why”? In this day of electronic billing, does anyone stop to think about how many jobs this takes from the local pockets of every employee of every grocery store, restaurant and farmer? This is an enormous phenomenon happening right before our eyes, and it needs to stop.
I know when I speak that my colleagues in my industry and other industries would love to be given the opportunity to say, hey we give more “bang for your buck”, and if you give us half a chance to match or beat the big guys price, we would!! My customers are also contracting what I call price tunnel vision – someone comes along with a better price in hand, and because things are so hard right now, they don’t take the time to check out the competition to read the fine print or see if they truly are legitimate. I have experienced national companies coming to my customers with ridiculous prices for their services, but they don’t tell the customer that there will be fuel surcharges, extra expenses for this and changes in schedules to fit the company needs not the customer, etc. This is the most important time to consider all the other factors besides price – what if there is a breach with this new vendor? Do they have the proper insurance to deal with it and cover you? Have they been in business very long? Do they have references? Have you asked around to see if they give good service? I have several customers who have been very long term customers because they were “burned” badly by poor service – so badly they were fined from the fire marshals (location in a high rise in Atlanta) because the big guys forgot to pick up a couple of weeks in a row. Do they care? Heck No! Does it matter to me? Darn right, it does because as a small business, all my customers are big fish in my ocean!