We all come into contact with businesses every single day. Often we deal with businesses that are mediocre – There is nothing “wrong” with them but there is nothing terribly exciting about them either.
Occasionally we’ll be lucky enough to deal with a business that operates “text book style”. They are refreshing in their professionalism and service and when we come across businesses like this we should take the opportunity to use it as a benchmark for what we’d like our own business to measure up to.
1. Offer Exceptional Customer Service:
This should go without saying but so often companies forget that a polite “hello, how can I help you” or a professional and prompt dealing with a customer complaint can actually mean the difference between a repeat customer and one that goes over the road to the competition.
Customer service isn’t just about big white smiles and being polite, it’s also about being efficient and going the extra mile for customers. A good example of “going the extra mile” is when a store calls one of their other branches trying to locate a particular product for a customer. In the case of exceptional service, the store would actually orchestrate the transfer of the product to the store closest to the customer and ensure that they received it!
Companies need to foster an environment where all employees have a thorough understanding of what good customer service is. This can be achieved through on-going training sessions of company policies and practical examples.
2. Make Sure that your Business is Well Stocked with Products
How can businesses operate without any stock? The answer is they can’t operate, well not for very long anyway! Investing in too little stock is such a common business mistake that it is surprising that so many people still do it. The downward spiral begins with the decision to invest a small amount in stock (be it lack of funds or fear of investing too much), customers then don’t feel as though they have enough choice, they can’t find the products they are looking for and any request for a product is met with “sorry, we are out of stock”. The shop then loses customers daily which also has a ripple effect because people tell their friends, yes, people talk! Sales drop, in fact they reach an all time low and the cycle repeats itself until the owner is forced to put a closing down sign on the door.
This kind of thing occurs around the world on a daily basis but the good news is that it can be avoided. The key is to invest a significant amount in stock and keep stock levels at an acceptable level. In doing so, businesses give their customers more choice and make more sales at the same time!
3. Keep With The Times
There are always a few stores that get stuck in a time warp and one wonders how they survive. Perhaps their most loyal customers get stuck in the time warp with them!?
Successful retail stores keep up to date with trends, technology and new products. They source different and unique products as well as those in demand by customers and the market in general. Magazines, customer surveys, international trends, blogs and industry websites are great ways for retail stores to keep up to date.
4. Train Your Staff Well
Training staff is an integral part of running a successful retail store. Customers don’t have time to wait at a checkout counter while new staff try and figure out the invoicing software. Staff need to know exactly where groups of products are placed, they need to be able to guide customers to the products they are looking for, give useful advice and be knowledgeable on products. Nothing makes a customer walk out of a shop faster than a sales person who doesn’t know what they are talking about.
5. Offer Seasonal Discounts and Loyalty Programs.
Customers like to feel special and enjoy being rewarded for spending money at a store they visit regularly. Loyalty programs can be implemented in both small and large stores with relative ease. Customers will not only feel as though they are benefitting from shopping at a store that offers an incentive program but they are also likely to become more loyal supporters of the store in the long-run.
Seasonal specials are a great way to clear old stock and to get more feet in the door. Customers might purchase “sale” items but they may very well buy higher priced items not on sale as well. Sales, specials and discounts should be planned for specific times/seasons during the year and marketing campaigns should be put in place to promote these events.
Transform your retail store into one that becomes the benchmark for others to aspire to. Integrate these points into your business policies, mission and vision statements, make them the foundation of your business and communicate them clearly to your staff. Make the decision and take the steps to be an exceptional business and you’ll never look back!
Author: Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa