Here’s an interesting little trend: small businesses located in American suburbia are “going to the customer.”
Instead of expecting customers to come to them, small businesses are bringing services to customers where those customers work. Small consumer-oriented businesses have found promising niches by providing on-site service at corporate offices. Consider these examples:
- A dry cleaner offers pick-up and delivery service with next day turn around. The dry cleaner picks up from consumers’ workplaces in the suburbs.
- Shoe shines are provided at local car dealerships and at Pepsico corporate offices.
- A massotherapist in California offers massages at workers’ desks. Employees at Yahoo, for instance, can order the service online.
- An auto service firm offers oil changes and replaces wiper blades dozens of times a day for employees at local office parks, by going to them at work.
For these small businesses, the presence of corporate offices nearby has been a big business driver. Corporate offices mean affluent employees who are too busy to handle routine errands, but who are willing to pay for convenience. Savvy service businesses understand this trend, and are leveraging it to the hilt.
I think this technique of “going to the customer” is a creative way for business-to-consumer companies to create a business ecosystem around them. The business environment in the United States in the new millenium is increasingly like an ecosystem, where one business relies on another. But the ecosystem doesn’t need to be limited just to the business-to-business realm. Even small consumer enterprises can develop an advantageous business ecosystem with large corporations located in their areas.