The Fruit Stand Effect

This article from Ron Mariotti was originally posted at livology.com

In Italy, I shop at local markets every week for fresh produce. Every village has at least one weekly market. I have noticed a pattern in every market. When I approach a market for the first time, I stand at the perimeter and watch. There are anywhere between 5-15 vendors selling virtually the same quality and selection of fruits and vegetables but at least 80% of the customers are at one vendor. Is is because of the vendors location? Is it because he/she offers the lowest price? OR is it because of the relationships he/she has with their customers?

When I think about my profession as a Real Estate Broker, or in fact any other sales position I have ever held, some reflections surface. There will always be a percentage of customers who stop at the first shop they see. There will always be a percentage of customers who look for the lowest price. BUT, when I stand at the vendor who has 80% of the market share and listen, I hear something different. He is asking after family members that are not present. He is asking customers what they are cooking and adding some free product to their bags based on their menu. He is engaged and animated and joyful and his commitment to customer service is contagious. He has 80% or more of the market share because he authentically engages week after week. He is always there and people count on him for much more than produce. He is building community.

Most people will walk a little further and pay a little more for a better experience and experience is intimately tied to the quality and authenticity of relationships. The good news about this is that work is more fulfilling AND more profitable when people come first. It is something so simple and yet so easy to forget.


Ron Mariotti is real estate broker who recently moved from Bainbridge Island, WA to Italy with his family. Ron blogs at livology.com with his wife Colleen, and you can learn more about his real estate offerings here.