Putting Customers First
Bedford Camera & Video puts its customers first in a number of ways. “You’ve got to create value,” says Stan. “In specialty stores today you’ve got to create a service, a package, but you have to be competitive on price as well… not beat prices, but be competitive,” he adds. “We’re going to compete with the big-box stores but we’ll do it in a smart way—by being productive.”
Each of the stores offers drive-thru windows. “They’re great for customers who can’t run in, because of small kids or for elderly customers who can’t easily get into and out of their cars, or even in inclement weather” explains Jeff. And yes, they’ve even sold cameras and other accessories through the drive-thru windows; in addition to the normal photofinishing orders.
On busy days, you might even find Jeff, Stan, or others in management working the drive-thru window—or the sales floor for that matter. “If I hear the bell ring, I’m out on the sales floor, greeting customers and asking how I can help,” Stan says. He may be the boss, but he’s not above doing any of the tasks he asks his employees to do.
On particularly busy days, when the drive-thru window has a line of customers waiting, Bedford employees will go outside to help alleviate the wait time. “Get them in, out, and on their way,” says Stan. The day that we were visiting, Stan, Jeff, and Steve were all behind the counters assisting customers as they walked in the door.
Bedford Camera & Video is known for its high level of customer service. Jeff explains that the staff is passionate about photography. In fact, employees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new cameras by taking them home to use. “Employees who are passionate about photography put more effort into their work,” says Jeff. Many feel “like a kid in a candy store.”
Customers who purchase a camera receive a free one night photo class. Bedford Camera & Video also offers advanced photography classes, specialized classes, and seminars. Professional photographer George Lepp has presented five seminars to Bedford customers in recent years. The stores also hold one night classes that are specific to camera brands, such as Nikon and Canon.
One of the more popular programs that Bedford customers benefit from is the pre-paid print card program. This was started for Christmas 2004, and according to Jeff, they’ve gone through over 15,000 cards at $40.00 each. The pre-paid print cards are printed on heavy cardstock and signed by a store manager. Because they are on cardstock and not the kind that is swiped electronically, the balance is tallied on the reverse of the card. Jeff says its better this way, for a number of reasons; they’re cheaper to produce, easier for the customer to know where they stand, and paid for up-front.
In fact, Bedford’s receives glowing feedback from its customers on an almost daily basis, whether via email, the website, or letters—all proof that they’re doing it right.