I have been in marketing /advertising and a business owner for many years (more than I care to mention). Over that time I have seen many businesses come and go some good and some not so good. During this time I have learned some very valuable things, all things that I see in common with the successful businesses and unfortunately, the ones that have failed. I hope that by sharing what I have learned, I can help you, the person considering opening a business or the one that has been in business and would like to see more success!
First and foremost is signage! Signage is the first thing that you can do to drive traffic to your door and the first piece of advice I give every new client. A sign that identifies who you are is so important! If you are planning your budget make sure you allow plenty for the sign that will identify who and what you are! I know this may seem simple but I have seen many people open their doors expecting the people to rush through only to be disappointed because no one knew what they were or that they were even open. Unfortunately, the lack of signage usually ends in disaster!
Your store front! Take a hard look at it, is it appealing? Is it painted nicely and in good condition? Are the windows clean with inviting displays? If not, FIX IT. If the front of your store is not eye catching to you, why would it be to anyone else? Your store front is the customer’s first impression of you and can be the deciding factor for whether or not they even come in.
Okay so now you have the customer through the door. Are they going to stay? When a potential customer walks through your front door they want to see what you have to offer them. Make sure they have a nice neat store to come into. All stores, whether an office or a retail space should always be kept neat and clean. This shows the customer that you are proud of your store, gives the impression of professionalism and really shapes the customers next impression.
Back to Basics customer service! Believe it or not customer service is becoming a lost art. I know stores that have the prices of services or merchandise a bit higher than their competition but beat them on sales solely because there customer service is beyond reproach. They and their staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and go above and beyond to make the customer happy. A simple tip is greeting every customer that enters. If you can’t go and immediately to help them, let them know you are available if they have questions or will be right with them. Make sure you and your staff, are well versed on the items or services you sell. Remember word of mouth is one of your best forms of advertising and word spreads fast when it is bad!
Networking is a must! Be involved in your community and civic groups. Building relationships with people can only help you grow your business. ALWAYS treat people as if they are a potential customer because you never know, they could be the next one through your door!
Take time to de-stress! We all know that owning a business is mostly a 24/7 job. Even when we are not actually working at our businesses, they are constantly on our minds. Take time! At least once or twice a week do something you love! Go for a walk or a bike ride get a massage or work on your favorite hobby. Take a vacation at least once per year. Whatever it may be, trust me you need and deserve it.
Make informed marketing decisions! Marketing and advertising is a necessary evil. Make sure you develop a plan to suit your business and your budget. Know who you are selling to (your demographic). Keep your ads simple and to the point. Don’t try to advertise everything or service in your store but rather figure out one thing that will drive traffic to your business. Come up with a logo and catch line (tag line) and stick with! Use it in all your advertising. This will help to brand your business. And WHATEVER you do DO NOT change it on a whim! Changing logos, business names and taglines, or even locations, means you start from ground zero. Think hard before you make that decision!
Marketing and Advertising professionals are there to help! But beware; if the person you are dealing with is only there to sell you an ad and doesn’t express real concern to help you and your businesses grow, they are not for you! A real sales professional will develop a relationship with you, want to get to know your business and have real concern for its success. They also know that the most important thing is to help your business grow. Your success determines their success!
I know many of these things seem like common sense. But you would be surprised how many businesses out there don’t do these few simple things or have simply become complacent and forgotten how important these things are. We all know that business is complicated but I hope these few things will help you stay on a path to success!
On that note I leave you words to live by. I know I do! Always under promise and over perform in whatever you do in life!
This one simple thing will mean that expectations are always met!
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