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6 Ideas for Tailoring Services to Your Community’s Needs

Combining your hobbies and the needs of your community into one hyper local service can make your business a key service provider across a wide area. Read on to learn how two retailers have captured their local markets with vital services.

Mark Jackson, who owns Red Oak Hardware Hank in Red Oak, Iowa, found his niche in tennis racket restringing services and a comprehensive tennis equipment department.

Mark and his wife played tennis when they were in school, and at that time, the closest tennis racket services were an hour away. In 1992, they decided to fill the local void and started providing tennis restringing services and selling equipment in their store. Today, the store services about 10 high schools in southwest Iowa, as well as tennis players of all ages in the area. Their services have made an impression on many students.

“Some former high school players have moved on to collegiate play, and they mail us their rackets to be serviced here,” Mark says.

Seasonal Services

Propane Services
Talk to your pro customers to find out if they need additional propane during the winter months. You may be surprised at the volume of sales opportunity.

At Ace Hardware Big Sky in Big Sky, Montana, store manager Dan Schlapkohl says they sell more than 800 gallons of propane a week to contractors and masonry workers who need to keep their job sites warm to cure concrete.

Christmas Tree Permits
Due to the pandemic, the U.S. Forest Service made tree-cutting permits free, but cutters are still required to get a tag for the trees they cut.

If customers come in to buy holiday decor or tree-cutting equipment, be sure they are up to date on everything they need, even if you don’t issue the permits yourself. Permits can be accessed at Recreation.gov.

Carpet Cleaning Rentals
Enhance your rental department by adding carpet cleaning machines to the mix.

Dan at Big Sky Ace says peak rental time for them is during “mud seasons”—spring and fall when the snow is melting or falling before the first big freeze. Be sure your staff is prepared to clean the machines upon return so they are ready to get back out on the floor quickly.

The Sky’s the Limit for Services

The town of Big Sky, Montana, has about 6,000 full-time residents, but during ski season, the population can swell to as many as 50,000 people. Many of the services Ace Hardware Big Sky offers are focused on local residents and the needs of property managers because the next closest hardware store is almost an hour away. Here are a few other services the store provides. Consider how you could tailor your services to the local needs of your shoppers—whether they are there year-round or just to visit.

Snow plow hand shovel blade replacement.
Because snow plows are an investment, some customers choose to have a new blade put on theirs instead of buying a new one.

Convenience cutting services.
At Big Sky Ace, most of their cuts are for items such as convenience lumber, PVC pipe and electrical conduit for DIY projects, and sometimes the products are cut just to fit in the customer’s car. The first cut is free and any additional cuts are $1 each.

Supporting Local Makers
From food items to outdoor equipment,  for insights into how you can support local artisans in your community, click here.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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