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Posted: January 07, 2014

The world’s most loyal customers

A little discount could go a long way for them

David Sneed

I was at a movie theater the other day, and a young guy ahead of me got $2 off his ticket for showing his VA card. So guess what I did? As an ex-Marine, I saved $2, too, that’s what.

And you’re looking at a guy who feels guilty grabbing a free doughnut because someone else might need it more. Sounds strange, maybe, in a take-as-all-you-can world, but a lot of military people think that way. Most of them live ‘self-reliance’ every day – even when they’re barely getting by.

So after looking into it, I was amazed at how many businesses offer a discount to veterans.

Lowe’s does. So does Home Depot. Aeropostale. Amtrack. The list is long but if you search the internet for ‘military discount’ you’ll find them.

My biggest surprise was that Safeway does not. None of the grocery stores do. So here’s an open letter to the new Safeway CEO Robert Edwards.

Dear Mr. Edwards,

 A lot of military families go to Walmart. It’s not because they don’t like Safeway; it’s because the food seems less expensive there.

I realize that your margins are tiny, but how about this:  Offer a discount for veterans on essentials like bread, milk, fruit and vegetables—everything that qualifies for WIC purchases.

Could you associate the discount with your club card? One sign-up at the service counter, and then it applies automatically? Maybe you could even have a special club card for them.

It’s a pretty nice gesture to those who faced imminent danger for $700 a month. I promise you that when they get on their feet they will help someone else who needs but doesn’t ask—and they’ll continue being Safeway customers who buy their non-essentials from you.

You’ll not find a more loyal customer than a military veteran.

Semper Fi

So what about my own company? I’ll do that. I’ll offer a discount to VA eligible military. I don’t suppose I could accept something without offering the same in return. Alpine Fence can afford to break even sometimes.

So what about you, and your business? Even if you don’t offer it to all ex-military, could you help out the combat troops? And if not for charitable reasons, you might consider doing it for the recognition.

I know times are hard, but there are injured guys out there who went through a lot for very little benefit to themselves. I’m doing well, but a bunch of others don’t have much more now than they did then.

They might be having a hard time right about now.

And if you happen to know Robert Edwards at Safeway, there are a million families who would appreciate you sending this to him. 

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

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Readers Respond

It may not be a question of should they, but rather could they? Aren't net margins extremely thin at grocery stores? I heard in the 1-2% range. They have to rely on volume to make any significant dollars. If they were to offer a standard discount it may very well erode what little margin they do receive unless they attract an even larger volume. My company does offer a military discount and it even applies to their direct family members, not just the veteran. By Steve on 2014 01 07
They don't now, Jeffrey, but if one does I agree, they all would. By David on 2014 01 07
So, the question is do King Soopers, Albertson's, Whole Foods and other grocery stores provide a discount? If one of their competitors offers a military discount then the others generally follow suit. By Jeffrey Fischer on 2014 01 07
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