Customers thirst for an opportunity to buy local products that offer something special," asserts Bill Webster, owner of Haven's Candies, a candy manufacturer, in Portland, Maine.

Here are a few ways Webster creates a hometown, personalized environment for the people who buy his handcrafted candies:

  • Tours. Haven's leads tours of its production facilities and gives school demonstrations. Customers can watch the candy being made through a viewing window. The tour underscores the freshness of the product and develops a presence for Haven's in the community.
  • Discounts. A new point-of-sale system with a customer database gives a 5% discount to repeat customers. As a side benefit, clerks learn the names of regular customers, so they can greet them by name as they walk in the door.
  • Sample trays. When a line forms at the cash register, clerks apologize for the wait and encourage customers to try something from the sample tray. The whole atmosphere changes because the customer doesn't feel ignored.

Webster's strategy of focusing on the purchase environment has paid off. Sales have reached $1 million, a 400% increase over eight years.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing