Introduction The Just family has operated our hardware store in this community for three generations. Our store has supported all of our family members very well in all of our years in business. We have recently been informed that Home Depot is planning on opening a new store in our community. The following is our plan of action to stay in business and continue to serve our community.

Problem Currently Home Depot is planning on opening a new store in our community. We foresee this posing a huge financial threat to our business. Being a small locally owned hardware store, we are not able to obtain huge volume discounts like the big box stores. Currently our hours of operation are significantly shorter than Home Depot. Home Depot is a nationally renowned name brand store, which in itself will be a significant hurdle to overcome. Home Depot has a huge advertising budget, which includes NASCAR sponsorships and national television advertisements.

The paramount concern for us is the competition they will impose relative to our customer base. Current Situation Seymour currently has one other hardware store located in the heart of the city in addition to ours. Both of our businesses have the same hours of operation, which are Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm and 8 am until noon on Saturday. Our store has seven employees currently.

Four are very knowledgeable individuals with a total of 120 years of experience between them. Two other members work part-time throughout the week stocking shelves and cleaning, while the last employee does the paperwork and ordering for the store. A huge percentage of our customers look to us for advice on how to repair their problems. They value our expertise in plumbing, electrical, paint, and personalized customer service. We believe we have an advantage in this area. Currently, we don't offer any other services except waiting on the customers, answering questions, and on a limited basis, filling small orders from a limited supply base.

Possible Causes of the Problem We believe that Home Depot's purchasing power could be the biggest issue facing us. They are a multi-billion dollar industry dispersing products nationwide. The result is providing lower cost product to the customer, while at the same time offering convenient one-stop shopping. Alternative Approaches After doing some sole-searching and conducting some poles within the community, we have come up with some ideas that might help us overcome the competition with Home Depot. We found out in our poling questions, that our early closing hours have caused potential customers to drive all the way to Columbus to get their needed parts. We also realized that most individuals or "do it yourself ers" did most of their work after they got off from work.

So, changing our store hours might help out some of those type customers. We felt like our store location was not a huge factor when it came to competing with our competition, in fact it might help us from the standpoint that we have less traffic associated with our location than Home Depot will have. In our research we also discovered that on many occasions we could have helped a customer purchase what they were looking for if we would have offered to order it from a catalog. Setting up some new vendors will assist us in getting the customer what they want. After some brainstorming of our own, we realized that most of our customers were small local contractors doing what they do best, home repair, remodeling, and some new housing jobs. We feel like we can expand our customer base considerably by reaching out to local industry and offer services that, until now, were not heard of.

It's imperative that we continue serving our long-time loyal customers while at the same time giving them more options to choose from for their hardware needs. Plan of Action It is our intentions to not only survive with the new competition moving into town, but to also grow our business significantly within our community. We will stay in the same location where we have been for thirty years and it is our goal not to reduce headcount. We will not try to compete against Home Depot as a Home Depot.

That is not the type of business that we are in. We must continue to run our business based on our business, not based on anyone else's. Rather than expand to try and beat Home Depot at it's own game, we must diversify our offerings. Our plan of action is as follows: . People come to our store for advice. Our staff must be the best-educated and best information provider for home improvement items in our community.

Big-box stores cannot duplicate this easily... Our store must offer the best selection. We know that the mass merchants sell the top brands, but we must have the best selection of key product categories and let our community know... Our store will provide our customers a fast checkout. Big-box stores are known for long checkout lines. Our customers will be able to get-in and get-out quicker at our store...

We will offer our customers convenient delivery to their home or just to their car hassle free. Our customers will value this service... We will have an easy return policy. No questions asked if an item is returned within a reasonable length of time. We can't discourage our customers business over one purchase and besides; our suppliers will stand behind their products too...

Our store can charge a higher price on items found at Home Depot, but it must be reasonable. Customers know there is a premium to shop at a small-specialized store. They will be willing to pay more for added value, but not to be gouged... Our customers are personally acknowledged. People feel important when they are recognized by name.

This personal touch is not available at big-box stores. How often has anyone went into a big-box store and had the owners meet them at the door to solve their problems? Our store is family owned and operated and there are family members here to meet their needs. We will have our staff wear name tags, make it policy to know customers names, and truly care and be grateful for every customer who shops in our store... After leaving our store, the customer must enjoy an ongoing relationship with us. Whether a phone call, a personal note, a special sale for valued customers only, or some other contact after the sale, customers appreciate having a personal relationship with small business owners and their staff... Most importantly we must join a hardware cooperative to keep our prices as low as possible.

We will be joining the 'Do It Best' hardware cooperative. Not only will this give us the buying power we need, but also provide us with national name recognition and affordable sale fly ers and other marketing material. This will cost us a one-time initiation fee of only $2800. Through this cooperative, we will be able to buy directly from 5000 vendors while retaining group buying power... We will change our store hours slightly. Starting January 1 st we will stay open on Saturdays until 5 pm and through the week we will stay open until 8 pm.

We will monitor these hours on a monthly basis and adjust them according to our sales and possibly the seasons... One of the major steps we are undertaking is to start making sales calls to the local businesses and industry to make them aware of our endeavor to help them in their hardware and miscellaneous needs. It is our intent to be their best supplier by being on time and making daily deliveries to meet their needs. We want them to understand that by using us they can eliminate some their suppliers, which will save them time and money... Some of the special characteristics we will offer are as follows; around the clock support, high volume customers will have the opportunity to designate a "key holder", which means their company designed can go into our store whenever there is an emergency need of a part and get their part.

We will take care of the paperwork later, after their needs are met and they are satisfied. We want to be recognized as their "one stop shop." Whatever their needs, whenever they " re needed, we will be there. Home Depot and Lowe's have changed the market, but they haven't managed to put all the independents out of business. What they have done, is cleaned the market of the under performers. We don't consider ourselves under performers by any means. We know that we can survive in the same community as Home Depot and we will 'Do It'.

Our store name will be changed from 'Just Hardware' to 'Just Do It'.