You might remember the Bill Murray movie What About Bob? In one scene he wears a memorable blue t-shirt with the slogan “Don’t Hassle Me, I’m Local” emblazoned on it.
I’ve always remembered that, because it illustrates the fact that being a “local” person — someone who resides in a particular region — comes with a certain degree of clout. People know you, and they know that you understand the concerns of your fellow community members and can relate to them and help them in a time of need.
Last week I got a call from someone having trouble getting their air screen set. Now, anyone in Canada or elsewhere in the world with the necessary expertise could have talked him through it, but the fact I’m based on the Prairies made all the difference.
That feeling of connection is crucial to your customer on a number of levels.
Region matters. When you call for help only to find the phone is being picked up by someone far, far away, it can put a damper on the experience. It counts for a lot when they know the person helping them is based near them.
“Locals” know the situation on the ground. Every region is different in terms of climate, which means every area of the country does things a little differently when it comes to agriculture. Help from an expert based right on the Prairies, for example, can make a big difference because someone who is based in their region knows firsthand the challenges they’re going through.
They’re usually part of a bigger network. Nobody exists in a vacuum. Local businesspeople are usually part of a bigger social and business network that they draw experience from.
I recently had a customer who bought an indent cylinder to do some flax cleaning. He called me and said that while it was doing a good job, it could use a little fine-tuning.
I messaged a colleague in Manitoba who had experience cleaning flax, and he gave me some specific settings to pass on. I talked with him about these settings, and later that day he sent me pictures showing that everything was working perfectly.
In these days of Zoom and email, it’s easy to communicate over long distances. But as people increasingly opt for “virtual” connection in many areas of their lives, there are some things that only region-based experts can make right.