The name of this column includes a key phrase, “The Sweetwater Difference.” There are many aspects to this, but its essence is the fact that we work so hard to really understand our customers and their needs and dreams. Developing strong relationships, both with our customers and our vendors, is truly the key to our continued growth as a company. In today’s world, it’s so difficult to find a retailer who actually cares about their customers’ satisfaction instead of simply becoming hyper-focused on efficiencies for the sake of profit.
Over 27 years ago, my first mentor in business told me something that truly impacted my approach to customer service. He told me that I would lose customers in the same way that I earned them. If I earned a customer’s business on price, that customer’s loyalty would depend on price. If I earned a customer’s business by providing extraordinary service, really getting to know them, understanding their goals, and connecting with them on a personal level, then it would be immensely difficult for a competitor to steal that customer from me. Customers would know they could trust me and be confident that I would be there to support them.
The fact is, price really isn’t an issue as a matter of course because we’re so competitive, so that personal “something extra” really matters. While we have an incredible Service Department, free tech support, a very deep and educational website, and much more, the Sweetwater Difference really starts and lives with our Sales Engineers. If a regular customer calls Sweetwater, I really hope that in that customer’s mind, Sweetwater is represented by a specific Sales Engineer. That is what makes our business model so unique in the retail world.
Most retail operations have extremely high turnover of employees. In a business model like ours that is based on long-term relationships with our customers, this would be a disaster. The average tenure of our current team who have been here a year or longer is 6.1 years. This isn’t a group of eight or 20 salespeople; it’s a team of 154 Sales Engineers. We have more folks who have been here longer than 10 years than most of our competitors have total employees. This is important for our customers because odds are, the person you talk to today will be here next week, month, year, and beyond. You don’t have to “start over” every time you call, you can just pick up where you left off with a person who already knows you, your gear, your musical preferences, and your goals. This truly is a critically significant Sweetwater Difference.
I wish you a blessed holiday season!
Rock and Roll!
Jeff RadkeExecutive Vice President of SalesChief Sales Officer