Columnists Bob Epstein Business slowdown or opportunity

Business slowdown or opportunity

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Now that we are going into the slower summer months, you have the perfect opportunity to step away from the day-to-day operations of your business and reflect on what really drives your business, your customers, products and services and competitors.

Do you really know who your customer is? By understanding your customer you can more successfully market your business and attract new and existing customers.

It is important to gather information about your customers when they make a purchase. The information you gather will become vital in profiling who your customer is. What do your customers have in common? What is their average age, marital status, where do they live and work? Are they mostly male or female? The answers to these questions will help you learn who is shopping your store and allow you to target similar groups that may become future customers.

Now that you have an understanding of whom your customer is, it is time to review your inventory and examine if it fits the needs of your customer. What are your best sellers and what has been sitting in inventory for several years? Does your pricing strategy match your customers’ needs? Given the current economic situation is your average price point equal to what your customer is willing to spend? Are you missing any categories or price points that your customers have been asking for?

Speak to your vendors and ask what have been the hot products. How have their average price points changed? Your vendors can also supply you with local information about what has been selling well with other stores in your area.

Create an in store survey for your customers and ask them why they shop your store. What would they like to see that you may not currently stock? How do they feel about your customer service? Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations as to how you may improve your services.

Once you have a good understanding of your customer and your product needs, it is time to put together the most effective way to market your services to your customers. Ask your existing customers how they heard of you. Look at your toughest competitors and review what they are doing to market their services. Are they offering product that you may not be carrying? Are they increasing their promotional efforts? How do your pricing policies compare to theirs?

You now have a good understanding of what you have to offer and who you want to offer it to. The next step is to communicate your message to the public. Why should they shop your store? What do you do better than the competition? What is the benefit to them?

When communicating your message try to be both unique and entertaining to make sure your message is heard. There is a lot of competition out there so you want to stand out and be noticed.

There are many ways to communicate your message and try to reach potential new customers. Ask your existing customers for referrals. Offer them something special for each referral that comes into your store. Team up with a local charity. This informs new customers that you are socially responsible. Many customers like to give something back to a local cause and by teaming up with a local charity you distinguish yourself from your competitors. Network with other local business owners. You can learn what is working for them and how they are reaching new customers.

You always have to be proactive and willing to try new things. A slowdown in your everyday business needs to be looked at as an opportunity. Get those things done that you put off when business is booming. Don’t just assume that since business is slow it is an opportune time to take a vacation, because before you know it that vacation may become more permanent than you want.

Bob Epstein is CEO of Silverman Consultants, LLC. Offering a legacy in sales strategies for jewelers since 1945, Silverman Consultants provides guidance to store owners seeking to turn around a business, sell off unwanted inventory, or liquidate an entire store. With offices located in Charleston, South Carolina; New York City; and Saskatoon, Canada; the company helps jewelry store owners and chains formulate strategies designed to maximize revenue in times of transition, whether due to retirement, store closing, or simply when needing a boost in sales. For more information visit www.silvermanconsultants.com or call Bob direct at 800-347-1500.

 
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