Cache Creek…where is that I can hear you asking. I asked the same question when I recently had the opportunity to work with a retail client in the town.
Cache Creek has a population of 1,040 people and is situated 354 kilometres north east of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
It was mid-October when I was asked to work with the client and I rented a car and travelled up the Fraser River valley to get to town. I accept this is not the tourism season, but most retail operations had shut for the season and getting a decent cup of coffee became a challenge.
I often get asked to consult “off the beaten track.” Many retailers keep telling me that they do it tough not being in an urban market where consumers are constantly walking past the door. There are some key differences that remote retailers have to focus on, however, the lessons from Cache Creek could be applied to retailers anywhere in the world whether they be in a small town or a major city.
The lessons from Cache Creek
1. Stand out from the crowd
Cache Creek is located on the Trans-Canada Highway, at a point where travellers will be prepared to stop on their journey. This means you need to provide a clear unique offer to make people stop, your “curb appeal” needs to stand out from the crowd. This can be achieved by unusual architecture or simply paint. Be bold. I drove into town and got the camera out when I saw an establishment that was determined to stand out from the crowd. Compare this to a consultancy job I recently had in Timor Leste where I walked down a street of clothing retailers that all looked the same, my only choice was based on price.
In Cache Creek I had plenty of choice in motels, but the majority all looked the same. I checked in to the Bear Claw. Why the Bear Claw? Well, because it looked more appealing, it reflected the area I was in and the owners had build a log cabin rather than a style of motel I can find anywhere in the world.
2. People make a difference
I went into the restaurant for a meal, nothing special about the menu, it was a standard menu that you can find anywhere in a remote town around the world.
What was special was Gina the waitress, she was welcoming and a “day maker”. She realised her job was to make the experience memorable.
When she gave me the bill there was a picture of a pumpkin on the receipt that she gave me. When I congratulated her on her “Delight Strategy” she explained that she changes her doodle on the receipt as the seasons change. Simple, but unique.
Too often in remote retail establishments as strangers we get processed rather than having a unique experience. I am due back in Cache Creek early next year and guess where I will be staying.
3. Work as a group, not as an individual
British Columbia excels at developing regional tourism. To get to Cache Creek you pass through the region of Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. These three councils have joined together to provide the “Experience Guide” of the region. Each region has then developed a Self-Guided Circle Farm Tour Guide. The guide has an illustrated map with the aim of getting the tourist to linger longer in the region. Get tourists to stop longer and all retailers benefit from the opportunity.
Some research carried out in Australia indicated that if you could get a tourist to stop in town they would, on average, spend around $170 per head in local businesses.
4. Provide me with something different you can promote
My client is Horsting’s Farm Market. This long established market has a bakery and is famous across the Provence for it bread and pies. In fact according to Trip Advisor it is the number one restaurant out of the 15 in town to stop and eat. The pies were started by the Horsting family who maintained the tradition and nostalgias. The farm was recently purchased by the Shane family who are building on the tradition and tourism opportunity.
Remote means you have to try harder, if you do not try the chances of failure are also higher. My challenge to you is that the next time you go to remote area, study the unique retailers and discover what they are doing that is unique to ensure they are providing a positive memorable experience.