Posted by: Diane Capuano
In the most current edition of “Retailer to Retailer,” we introduce you to PDRA Board Member Jim Wolcott, Sioux City Paint & Decorating, Sioux City, Iowa. Learn a bit about his background and his work with the PDRA Board in the Q&A interview, below:
Q: Can you provide a bit of background about you and your store?
A: I worked for a large retailer for 17 years in about all areas of the business, starting in the warehouse unloading freight and checking in orders and then merchandise ordering, management and new store setups. While working for them, I enjoyed the building materials department about the best. It was long hard hours but great training for my own store. I was financed by my main paint supplier and spun off from them in a little under three years. I could not have done that without the hands-on education I received by working in retail.
Q: What is it about your business that sets you apart from other paint and decorating stores in your community?
A: We continually try to do something different than everyone else. We do “how-to” clinics. We try just about every new product that comes out. We put on programs for ladies’ groups, community colleges and service clubs. We do live radio spots telling about our products, tips on using products and just fun ads like running for Tri-state Paint Commissioner (a made-up position, this works very well during an election year). These ads make people feel they know us personally. Customers always come in saying ,“I hear you every day on the radio.” We also get involved in local Home Builders, Habitat, church and other community functions.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience with PDRA (and its predecessor organization NDPA)?
A: My main supplier encouraged me to be involved. They wanted me to go to the show. It was a great connection because I could see new products, talk to other dealers and take some educational classes. I have met many other dealers whom I can call friends and have made great connections with suppliers. When I am not sure about a product or a new line, I call one of these guys and we bounce it off each other.
Q: The PDRA Board has been involved in social media in a big way in the last couple of years. What type of social media are you involved in? What role does social media play in helping the business of an independent paint and decorating retailer?
A: I have learned a lot through the magazine about social media. I still have a long way to go but I had a customer come to a how-to class last week after seeing it on Facebook. It is the way of the future. Especially with so much media blasting from every direction, we have to cut through the clutter. In addition to Facebook, I am doing Twitter and LinkedIn and even get this to my phone. I am even learning about search engine optimization and driving customers to my website. All this, and I still type with two fingers!
Q: You serve on the PDRA Board of Directors Membership Committee. What are some of your priorities for that committee in 2012?
A: I hope to help convey the importance of supporting independent retailers and show the value of our organization. I want other dealers to see that this is important tool for them—the education, the sharing of ideas and the connection to suppliers. It’s not just us against the “big guys,” but we have PDRA to help. I also want them to know just because they get the magazine, it doesn’t mean they are members. They need to join to keep us all informed and strong.
Q: Give us your best “sales pitch” regarding why an independent paint store owner should join PDRA.
A: In order to grow, you need fresh ideas, educational opportunities, trade shows, supplier connections, cost-saving ideas and just fellow retailer friends in the same business. All of this and more is available through PDRA. Out of all of the dealers I have met in 22 years of store ownership, the successful ones are always pushing forward, trying new things and sharing with each other. This is the group to grow with, so send in your check and get involved today.
Q: Any other thoughts?
A: Independent dealers have the ability to react fast. We don’t need to ask the “higher-ups.” We can try new products. We can cut through the corporate red tape to do what it takes to help and keep our customers. I think back on a number of new products that we had months before our competition. Eventually the big boxes may end up with them, so I look for the next hot product. Our customers, retail or contractor, know we are the place to go for new ideas and solutions to their problems. That is our strong point and we have to continue to push forward.
Tags: Retailer to Retailer