Retailing-My Top Five Business ‘Killers’

On Tuesday I pointed you to an article by the Retailer Owners’ Institute called “The Top Five ‘Killers’ of Retail Sales”.  As I wrote at the time, the information in the article was very good, but it was from a bean counter’s perspective.  Today I’d like to give you my top five list.  I’m not saying that my list is better.  Any item from either list could be a business killer.   In fact, the two lists combined would make a pretty good top ten.

5.  Unattractive place of business. People want to shop in a place that’s bright and cheerful, clean and neat.  Take a walk outside and view the premises with a critical eye.  Does the outside make a customer want to come inside?  Then walk in the front door imagining that you’re the customer.  Is your store inviting?  Is everything clean?  Do the displays look fresh and interesting?  Is there proper signage?  Would you shop there?

Be brutally honest.  If the answer to even one of these questions is “no”, you have work to do.

4.  Poor marketing. The idea of marketing is to get customers into your store.  No marketing = no customers.  It’s as simple as that.  Here’s the thing.  Good marketing doesn’t have to be expensive.  Many would argue that word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing of all and it’s virtually free.  The Internet, especially social media, makes it possible to reach out to our target audience at little or no cost.

If you don’t know what to do, there’s plenty of information right here on the web and there are a number of books that are excellent resources.  I recommend “Marketing Your Retail Store in the Internet Age” by Bob and Susan Negin and “The Profitable Retailer” by Doug Fleener.

3.  Poor Salesmanship. Even vending machines are designed to present the product in the best possible light.  If your staff isn’t knowledgeable about the merchandise, sales may be hard to come by.  Sales are made to people by people (with the exception of those vending machines).  In good times, products may fly off the shelf but in times like these, your staff must be able to convince the customer that your offering is the best.

2.  Poor Customer Service. This one goes hand in hand with number 3.  There’s no excuse for poor service and today’s customer won’t stand for it.  Follow the Golden Rule.  Treat customers the way you want to be treated, and mean it!  Someone once said, “Sincerity is everything.  If you can’t fake it, you’ll never be successful.”

You and your staff must genuinely want to make the customer’s life easier and better.  If your number one motivation is profit, people will see right through you.  You may make a sale but you won’t make a friend.  And friends are your best source of word-of-marketing.  Isn’t it funny how all these things tie together?

You may be thinking that great customer service should be number one and a lot of people would agree with you.  But, like I said, all these things work together so here’s my number one.

1.  Unhappy Employees. Unhappy employees will almost guarantee numbers two through five.  They won’t care how the place looks.  They won’t care about marketing.  They won’t practice good salesmanship and they won’t care about serving the customer.

While a happy, satisfied customer may be the ultimate goal, the quickest way to make sure that happens is to have a motivated staff.   Make the staff happy and they’ll make the customers happy.

As a small business you may not be able to offer the perks that a big company can.  But you can make your staff feel like part of the family.  You can offer them intangibles that your bigger competitors can’t like flexible hours and more control of their own career.  You can give them a voice in decision-making and make them feel important every single day.

Happy, motivated employees are the key to a successful business.

Advertisements

Ask for the Sale!

This post originally appered on January 14, 2009.

In yesterday’s post, I suggested that you find a reason for your customers and potential customers to find your business indispensible in this weak economy.  I hope you’re taking that advice seriously.

Here’s another suggestion:  Ask every customer for the sale.  Today at the Retail Contrarian blog, my friend Doug Fleener suggests six ways to conquer the “I’m only buying what’s on sale” mentality.  His sixth and final point is so simple that you wouldn’t think it necessary to repeat it, but I guess we all have to be reminded once-in-a-while to get back to the basics.  He says,

Give the customer an opportunity to make the purchase. It’s as simple as asking the customer to buy it. The more bad economic news there is, the less likely your competitors will ask for the sale. Do you?”

He’s absolutely right, when times are tough it’s easy to get discouraged and fall  into a mindset that the customer isn’t going to buy.  To succeed in this market, don’t let it happen.  You and your staff should ask every customer who walks into the store to buy something.  You’ll be surprised at the results.

Ask for the Sale!

In yesterday’s post, I suggested that you find a reason for your customers and potential customers to find your business indispensible in this weak economy.  I hope you’re taking that advice seriously.

Here’s another suggestion:  Ask every customer for the sale.  Today at the Retail Contrarian blog, my friend Doug Fleener suggests six ways to conquer the “I’m only buying what’s on sale” mentality.  His sixth and final point is so simple that you wouldn’t think it necessary to repeat it, but I guess we all have to be reminded once-in-a-while to get back to the basics.  He says,

Give the customer an opportunity to make the purchase. It’s as simple as asking the customer to buy it. The more bad economic news there is, the less likely your competitors will ask for the sale. Do you?”

He’s absolutely right, when times are tough it’s easy to get discouraged and fall  into a mindset that the customer isn’t going to buy.  To succeed in this market, don’t let it happen.  You and your staff should ask every customer who walks into the store to buy something.  You’ll be surprised at the results.