When you started your business, you were planning to be successful. However, it takes more than a good attitude to maintain a successful small business. If you find yourself facing adversity and your business is beginning to take a downturn, here are some things you can do to turn your business around, and help it thrive.
- Truly care and cater to customers’ wants and needs. Most people who choose to patronize small businesses are deliberately doing so because of the level of customer service they experience. Make sure you are delivering on this expectation. Demonstrate to your customers that you sincerely care about meeting their needs and satisfying their wants. For example, a local spa owner has been slowly but surely losing clients to the nearby franchise that constantly runs promotions for new and existing customers. Although she can’t compete with their rates, she can offer each customer a more individualized experience. When a customer makes an appointment for a service, such as an upper body massage, she asks specific questions about their preferences (what type of music to play if any, if they’d like the masseuse to converse with them, any desired fragrances, etc.) and tailors the experience to that person. Customers will recognize and appreciate your extra effort and attention and spread the good word about your business.
- Listen to your existing customer base about ways to improve. There are various ways you can reach out to your customers and ask for their feedback. Face-to-face conversations, email surveys, and incentivized reviews can all give you a good idea of what their impressions are of your business. Really listen to the feedback and make any necessary changes. If your customers are consistently telling you that they find it difficult to make the time to call you when they need something, perhaps you should consider adding online ordering or a Facebook Page for your business, or create an auto-ship program. It’s not always pleasant to hear what you may be doing wrong, but it is a valuable tool that can help you maintain your existing customer base, and build a new one.
- Personalize and improve your relationships with customers. The small business model is all about building relationships. Your customers are the backbone of the business, so make an effort to get to know a little bit about them. When a woman comes in with her baby, ask her how old he is, mention that your son is around the same age, and share a funny story about your child. Encourage her to do the same, and make sure you introduce yourself. The next time she stops in, you can greet her by name and ask about her family. Don’t hesitate to make notes on your customers as well to help you remember details they might share; the act of recording such particulars can improve your memory. The bottom line is that you should always make your customers feel welcome, special, appreciated and known.
- Try something new. Perhaps your competitors have begun to offer a new service and have therefore lured away some of your customers. Breathe some new life into your business by trying something new. For example, the owner of a camera shop might offer monthly workshops on various topics such as getting started in photography and how to choose the right camera for your needs. He gets to share his love of photography and the equipment with others while bringing in new traffic each month. Tapping into your passions is a great way to start when searching for something new to implement into your business.
You can save a failing business by committing to make a few changes. What else should be added to our list? Share your ideas below!