Bill Duggan, managing partner of Videoport, a video rental store, in Portland, Maine, knows that personalized service and creativity are required to compete against large chains. For inspiration on new services, Duggan looks to noncompeting businesses. "By taking service ideas from other industries, we've increased rentals, reached new niche markets, and have improved customer satisfaction," says Duggan.

If pizza can be delivered, why can't videos? Videoport now delivers videos seven nights a week. Delivery accounts for 10% of movie rentals, and some customers have all of their rentals delivered.

Another old, but new-to-the-video-business, idea is credit. Similar to bartenders running a tab for customers, the system spares patrons the hassle of continually rummaging for change or writing checks. "Our frequent renters love the system," says Duggan.

"A certain percentage of customers default," says Duggan, "but we more than make up for it in increased sales per customer. People don't limit themselves to what they have in their pocket. Our average number of rental copies per person is higher than the industry average."

Videoport has been voted "best video store" four years in a row in the local newspaper's annual survey, and it dominates video rentals in the local market. Success has come, in part, from its ability to identify services that customers value.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing