Hardware Retailing

JUL 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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July 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 49 RJ McDaniel Vice President/Co-Owner B&B Hardware Milan, Illinois Under $2 Million in Annual Sales R J McDaniel doesn't mind pushing the boundaries of typical hardware categories if it means he can create new customers. As the fourth-generation owner of the family store, McDaniel started his career by modernizing the business and preparing it for future growth. He spearheaded the move to a new location, which offered three times the square footage of the old building. With the additional space, McDaniel was able to expand his offerings in nearly every area and add a rental department. These changes began attracting more DIY customers. Overall sales increased 45 percent and the average transaction size increased 16 percent. His secret to that increase is simple: Listen to the customer. Many of the items he's added are a result of their suggestions. "I know more than half of my customers by their first name, and most of them have my cell number, so they call and text me often with feedback," he says. "I want to know why they shop elsewhere." While most of the growth was built on traditional product categories, he's had a lot of success in unusual niches. In college, McDaniel discovered the sport of disc golf. As a retailer, when he realized no one in his area carried the supplies disc golfers needed to play the game, he started selling a few discs and accessories. Today, the category outperforms some of his hardware categories. He's even turned his involvement in the sport as a way to benefit his community. He helped build a professional disc golf course at a local park, bringing in several national tournaments. McDaniel also found ways to leverage his Federal Firearms License, which allows him to issue permits for gun owners. He listed his store's information with all of the major online gun retailers, and then lowered his fee for the service below that of his competitors. The number of permits he issues has increased exponentially, which has increased the number of customers coming through his store. "Customer feedback totally drives our product mix. If they want something I can get, I start carrying it."

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