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Why You Should Support Your Local Aquarium Hobby Clubs



Absolutely Fish, Clifton, N.J.

I often hear about how hobbyist clubs (especially online forums) can be detrimental to local fish shops. The common complaints seem to be that they’ve built their own community, trading and buying amongst themselves. They group buy, want cheap prices and even purchase directly from our suppliers. They just do not support us …

There is no doubt some of this is true, but there still are advantages to connecting with your local club. Look at it this way: If they’re not going to support you 100 percent, why not take the high road and get 10, 20, 30 or even 40 percent? That’s certainly better than 0 percent, isn’t it?

Club support is all about the intangibles. Go to a meeting (they’re actually fun) and get to know the president. Invite them to your shop, maybe before you open or after you close, and offer them a nice discount. They’ll sense your support and feel special. “Like” their Facebook page and join their forums. Listen to the critics and do your best not to get angry; just listen.

 

The Intangibles

Once you’ve attempted to connect with them on social media, they usually will reciprocate by “Liking” your Facebook page or by signing up for your mailing list. Your network is now larger, so when you want to publicize sales, new fish or products, you are likely to generate more interest and foot traffic. Once you’re in their circle they might feel comfortable telling you things an average client would not say. I’ve learned so much from such comments and also have altered strategies because of it. I find constructive criticism to be very beneficial and important for us to improve.

After establishing a relationship with your club, ask them to review you on Facebook, Google or Yelp. The more reviews you have, the stronger your web presence (the more likely you are to be found through search engines). Another favorite engagement method of mine is the “secret shopper”—ask the president of the club to pass out review cards. When members visit your shop, they would review your service, and when the member turns the review card back to the president, they would receive a free gift or discount coupon to use on their next visit. Trust me, club members love this stuff.

 

I suggest keeping a review card simple, like so:

Were you greeted within 10 minutes? _______ By whom?___________________

Were we helpful? _______ Who was most helpful? _______________________

Did you find what you needed? _______ Who helped you find it/them? __________

Comments: ____________________________________________________

 

We often value our clients based upon “dollars spent.” But we also should be reminded of “commons creating,” “which is the ability to design systems to engage and grow shared assets that can benefit all players” (Johansen, 2012, Leaders Make the Future, 2nd Edition).

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