My biggest fear these days working the sales floor at K&L is the question: "Do you guys have......?"
Why does that question strike fear into my heart? Because if the answer to that question is "I'm sorry we don't", you can probably guess what the next question will be: "Why not?" That's a loaded gun of a query, primed to explode depending on what I say and how I say it. Let me give you an example.
Customer: Excuse me, I can't find the Jack Daniels. You guys carry it don't you?
David: No, I'm sorry we don't.
Customer: Really? Why not.
Why don't we carry Jack Daniels? For a number of reasons, but mainly because it's widely available at our competitors, usually at a more competitive price than we're able to negotiate based on our small purchasing power. It's simply not in our wheelhouse at K&L, just like thousands and thousands of other wine and spirits that are perfectly fine and enjoy a large consumer base. Unfortunately, some people take our lack of product placement as a personal assault on their very personal taste. It's a phenomenon that seems to be getting worse and it's beginning to give me some anxiety.
David: Because it's not something we thought we could be competitive with, unfortunately.
Customer: Are you serious? It's one of the most popular whiskies on the planet. So basically you don't carry it because you think it sucks, right?
David: Not at all. It's just that you can get it at almost every liquor store from here to San Francisco and we like to give people a reason to come specifically to K&L.
Customer: Lots of stores carry Jim Beam and you carry Jim Beam. Lots of stores have Grey Goose. That doesn't make any sense.
Not every store can carry every product available, so you have to make decisions. And, yes, some of them may be based on personal preference. Others, perhaps, on relationships within the industry. There are a number of thoughts that go into our total selection at K&L, but none of them revolve around insulting our customers. Yet, that's exactly the reason most people assume! I was reading a pre-season report on ESPN that ranked each MLB team from top to bottom. I laughed out loud when I read the author's note:
But before we begin, our standard disclaimer: If you disagree with these rankings or any of the 2015 rankings to come, remember that I made my decisions based solely on my bias against your favorite team, with no consideration whatsoever for data or objective analysis.
I can only imagine the hate mail those guys get from fans who are upset over their favorite team being ranked towards the bottom, hence the disclaimer.
David: We carry those products because we think they're quality brands that offer value to our customer.
Customer: Well, you really should carry Jack Daniels because there's no better value in the business.
David: Thank you for your input. We'll do our best.