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Guest column: How to turn gray into green — Embrace the boomers who live, work here

The Graying of America via the baby boomer effect is being
felt throughout the nation.

The Graying of America via the baby boomer effect is being
felt throughout the nation. Pennsylvania
ranks No. 3 in the nation behind the likes of Florida and Arizona.
Additionally, Central Pennsylvania has the
largest concentration of those age 50 and older and has one of the highest
growth rates in the state for the numbers of seniors. We’re getting grayer
daily.

This group represents not only a large and growing business
segment, but one that evidences buying characteristics no other segment could
dream of possessing. Tapping into this potential buying resource can be highly
lucrative and highly difficult. Let’s see why.

These neighbors of
ours are mature

They represent the most educated adults in the U.S. Yet they
are also the most entrepreneurial, having worked most of their lives in an
ever-smarter environment. They created the huge information glut that we are
all trying to manage, personally and professionally. They don’t mind learning
or trying new gadgets or technologies – they invented them. And they
participate in the political process. 
Treat them like the educated adults they are. Give them the details from
which they can make a committed purchase.

Along with this
maturity comes a feeling of security

They participated in Vietnam,
witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union and the
Berlin Wall, endured the desert wars, 9/11, economies that range from deep red
to deep black and oil embargoes. And yet they possess an uncommon positivism
for our homeland and the world. They are the aging kids of those known by Tom
Brokaw as “The Greatest Generation.” 
They set appointments and do everything to keep them. Baby boomers don’t
sit around. They’re active. They hunt, they fish, they bowl, they shop. They rarely
crochet.

Deep pockets?

Well, not necessarily. But even the lower-middle class is in
homes that are nearing their payoff. Empty nests, low mortgages on older homes
with high equity, high discretionary funds and early retirements are all
invitations to do business.

So what’s the
obstacle? All of the above!

Because of their maturity, security, life’s work,
intelligence and financial status, baby boomers expect more. They want service
that is tailored to them. They demand value in everything. And they deal with a
business confidence that doesn’t allow for business from any but the best. Not
everyone wants the cheapest product and price. Everyone does want value and a
reasonable guarantee of the product and workmanship. Give them more than you
promised, and they’ll be back!

As if that were not enough, they require a level of
communication that we’ve not before experienced. While they’re comfortable
using e-mail, BlackBerries, cell phones and digital everything, today’s boomers
require a level of communication that is personal, shows respect, is open and
legitimate, and gives them the opportunity to compare options, see the
long-term value and know they have meaningful warrantees and guarantees. They
read a lot and are in tune with the latest news – political and business.
Answering the phone isn’t enough, and transferring the call isn’t an option.
Add value from the start: Answer your phone promptly, speak clearly, and be
prepared to answer questions about your product or service.

It’s interesting to realize that, based on their
intelligence and scrutiny, boomers have determined that Central Pennsylvania,
not Florida nor Arizona, is the new retirement Mecca. And they are eager to
make themselves comfortable for the long haul by taking advantage of the right
businesses and products that are smart enough to garner their confidence. 

We all are lucky to have all that gray here – and making our
valley even greener.


Barry Kindt is president of Secco Inc. in Lower Allen
Township, Cumberland County. Secco has provided plumbing, electrical, carpentry
and heating and air-conditioning services in Central Pennsylvania since 1969.

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