To be or not to be… successful

The UKdealers are suffering in this economic white water. Margins are tight and stock is virtually nonexistent. But there are shining lights that chart a careful course. GRAY LEVETT shares his philosophy Every day it seems we are hit from all sides. As news of the operatic calamities which are the finances of Europe and America dominate many news items, a depressing effect on the population as a whole is formed because solutions do not appear to be forthcoming. The photographic industry has, likewise, had its share of triumphs and difficulties. When times are hard, Grays of Westminster, like any other company, has to be constantly vigilant and we need to ensure that we do all we can to flourish. It has often been said that we invented a new type of photographic retail environment for a new type of customer, and we are frequently asked: "how as a business and a Nikon-only shop are you coping with the downturn in the economy?" The answer is always the same, promote. We promote and keep on promoting, but before we do so, we find out what our camera-buying public want. Find out what is needed and wanted and then supply it. Do not fall for only supplying or pushing the latest releases, realise that volume selling of everything you have is the way to market successfully. FORTY THOUSAND PLUS AND COUNTING... . The Gazette is now sent out to over forty-thousand of our customers all over the world. GRAYS OF WESTMINSTER ONLINE... For many people, their first encounter with us has been a virtual tour. TWITTER AND BLOG... A customer or potential customer can now follow us on Twitter, as well as our blogs. This method of promotion is not to be underestimated. These initial encounters leading to a visit to the shop have become, for some, an essential part of the Nikon experience. Our staff are the key to this experience because we have always held as sacrosanct that our customers deserve the very best in service. Furthermore, it is our unstinting determination to relate to our customers. With the spirit of friendly enthusiasm and knowledgeable professionalism that is now so often lost to the modern retail world, we like to attend to detail because it practically matters. To inform and advise because we can and to afford to every one of our customers the same grace, willingness and good manners that we believe is every customer is due. A QUARTER OF A CENTURY LATER... We are entering our twenty-sixth year in business, so I would imagine we did something right. But it certainly didn t look that way when we began. We started in a recession with no stock to speak of and Ј100 in the bank, so I researched carefully by finding out what customers wanted and did my utmost to ensure they got it. I discovered that there wasn t anyone specialising exclusively in Nikon, so I went ahead and created Grays of Westminster... exclusively Nikon. I was told by almost everyone I knew that a shop selling just Nikon would not last more than six months! In summation, primarily you have to be constantly alert to changes in the market, and your marketing and promotion have to be effective. I firmly believe it is vital for any organisation to find out what their potential customers need and want. Would I buy from these people? Are they interested in helping me with my photographic requirements? If I need help do they offer me a solution or a problem? One of the major keys to our continued success has been to realise that every customer, no matter the size of their purchase, is equally important. We consider it a privilege to serve, and aim to do so to the highest possible standard

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