Written by: Dan Ganancial, Senior Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson
Tucked away in the hills of San Diego county in the town of El Cajon sits a furniture store of humble beginnings. The store was started in 1947 at the former site of a car repair shop. The first sale of the store was a second-hand trunk. Initially, a variety of used furniture was sold to customers. Little by little, the store grew from selling used furniture to selling new products. Fast-forward 65 years later and the store, Tucker’s Valley Furniture, has grown to become two stores encompassing over 50,000 square feet of combined retail space.
Tucker’s Valley Furniture, and sister store Cash & Carry Furniture, are gems in the San Diego retail furniture industry. The stores are family-owned and have been operated by the Tucker family for generations. With all the success the stores have enjoyed throughout the years, it is surprising to find out that they have not done much in the way of advertising. Throughout the years, management has not employed television, radio, or direct mail advertising. In fact, a listing in the yellow and white pages is the only form of advertising that has been done.
Whereas other furniture competitors in the area spend enormous amounts on television, radio, and online advertising, Tucker’s Valley Furniture remains an enigma. Although the store spends next-to-nothing on advertising, it continues to attract and retain customers, which has helped them battle the competition and weather tough economic times.
So, this begs the question – How can a store that does so little advertising stick around for over 60 years and continue to be profitable? The answer is simple: Tucker’s Valley Furniture does a great job of getting their customers to refer others to their stores. Word-of-mouth to friends and family is the Tucker bread-and-butter.
There is no secret formula. Strong word-of-mouth and referrals can be created and implemented by any company, and the results can have an everlasting, powerful impact. But where does lasting word-of-mouth power come from. Instituting an active tell-a-friend marketing campaign can provide a quick jolt; however, to have lasting power requires more than just a creative marketing campaign. What is required are the following three things that Tucker’s Valley Furniture has done so well over the years:
1. Commitment to customer service. Tucker’s prides itself on providing the absolute best when it comes to customer satisfaction. They have built their identity and reputation on providing top-notch service by putting the needs of their shoppers first and helping their clients get what they need (even when it means going the extra mile).
2. Offering quality products/services at reasonable prices. Simply put, offer your best at a reasonable price and the customer will appreciate it and buy more than twice. Give your customers something to talk about.
3. Providing an amazing buying experience. The best companies in the world, along with Tucker’s, know that customers who enjoy the buying experience are more likely to buy again. Lay the right foundation of great customer service coupled with quality products/services at reasonable prices and the buying experience becomes one of your strongest value propositions.
In a nutshell, a commitment to great customer service coupled with quality products/services equals a memorable buying experience. A memorable buying experience equals sales and satisfied customers. Satisfied customers equal powerful and positive word-of-mouth referrals, which ultimately leads to more business and continued success. Just ask Tucker’s Valley Furniture!