Bill Crawford's Blog

14 Years Farther Down The Road

First of all, my wife and I are quite excited about our move and our new home. The house that we are moving into was completed just the other day and is in a great neighborhood. It gives us close to twice the room that we currently have – and for relatively little additional money!

However, preparing to move out of a house that we’ve been in for so long stirs up a lot of emotions and memories. (Don’t worry – this won’t be a sappy, emotional post – or, at least, it won’t totally be one!)

- When we arrived in our house, we were the parents of two elementary-school age children; our nest is now empty and we are “expectant grandparents.”

- When we arrived, we were pet-less; we now cannot imagine being in a home without a dog being in it with us.

- When we arrived, home entertainment consisted of movies on VHS tapes and music on cassettes; our movies are now all on DVD (with quite a number in a digital format) and our music has become CD or digitally-based. I am converting LP’s and cassettes to digital files, having copied all of our CD’s already.

- When we arrived, I was a high tech guy – I had a pager! It was soon to be replaced by a two-way pager! (Look out, Buck Rogers) But, for the last couple of years, we haven’t had a home phone – we have gone totally cellular. Both of our children, now grown and on their own, have never had a home phone!

- When we arrived, we had never heard of the “internet,” the “world wide web,” “going on-line,” etc. I think that now our internet connection is used more than anything else in our house (other than the electricity that powers the devices that connect to it!) I am not sure where the Yellow Pages are – we Google anything that we need to find!

My point, before I overreach to make it, is that things have changed a lot – and the things that have changed that have affected all of us are in the realm of technology. (14 years ago had anyone posted to, read, or ever heard of a “blog”?!?)

Technology, however, has to be a tool to achieve our ends in the marketplace, rather than the focus of our being in the marketplace. Does your website, Facebook page, and physical store emphasize that you carry top-quality products and that you offer them to your customers with world-class service? Are you still focused on the customer service that your staff can provide, or is their comfort with technologies and electronic tools overriding good hiring decisions?

The world has changed by some amazing technology – and hopefully most of it has been for the better – but the reality still is that we are an industry of specialty retailers carrying special products – and selling them to special people with special, hard to find, service. Technology can make that happen more efficiently if used properly, but it can’t replace the core of who we are and what we do.

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