How successful is the A-1 Irrigation Customer Appreciation Day event? “People actually plan their vacations around it,” said Stuart Holthaus, general manager of the Valley Center, California home improvement retailer. “I’ve heard that several times from customers.”
The event has also proven to be pretty successful as a business builder. Holthaus says that revenue has grown by a factor of nearly 10 since the company started hosting customer appreciation events 19 years ago. He lays out the math: in 1996, monthly sales hovered around $55,000. Now they come in around $500,000.
Stuart says the team takes pride in organizing the event, and watching it generate results and build customer relationships. It started in 1996 as a simple cook out in the front parking lot. Last month, the special 50th anniversary A1 Customer Appreciation Day fed some 550 people in two hours. Some of the highlights were pit barbecue that cooked all through the night, homemade guacamole and music from the local Millionaire Beach Bums.
Two customers received $500 A-1 shopping sprees.
The event has always been open and free to the public. Vendors are also free to join and set up a booth, as long as they contribute prizes to the raffle.
The event has certainly taken on a life of its own. Has it gone too far? “I don’t think you can ever go too far for our Customer Appreciation Day,” answered. “Has it reached its capacity? Probably.”
Owned by Jack and Carolyn Bose, the 14,000 square foot A-1 Irrigation Do it Best Hardware was created in 1967 as an irrigation supply store serving avocado and orange farmers. It steadily expanded to parts, hardware and other building supplies into a multi-purpose home improvement store.
“The customer is number one” said Holthaus. “And I believe this event is a way to say thank you to them for their business.”