Over my last two articles, I have discussed what I see as disturbing trends in…
Timing Is Everything: Whose Deadlines Are You Meeting?
I went into Big W the other day to buy some winter clothes and was told, “This was all we have because we’re getting ready for summer stock.” To which my response was, “But it’s June and winters just started.”
This got me thinking. Are we providing our products and services when our customers actually want them or when it’s convenient for us? My observations of most retail businesses are unfortunately the latter. Think about it: winter’s just started, and there’s hardly any winter clothes about, Christmas decorations are out from October, and Easter Eggs and hot cross buns are out in January instead of April.
But is this really when the customer wants it? No! So why do we put up with this?
Well, as we are seeing an increase in online retail sales, it seems people are starting to vote with their feet and telling retail stores, “If you don’t have what I want, when I want it, then I’ll go elsewhere to get it.” I know I don’t buy Easter eggs until April and hot cross buns until the week leading into Easter purely on principle. If I’m doing this, then your customers could also be making the same purchasing choices.
So, here are three key considerations regarding your products and services to ensure you’re actually meeting your customers’ needs:
1. Ask or assume.
Have you actually asked your customers whether your product or services are being provided to them at the best time for them, or would another month, season etc., be better (better meaning this should translate into increased sales for you)? If your products or services are only being provided at a certain time, then maybe it’s your customer’s busiest time and therefore not on their radar but providing them even a month later could reap a substantial financial reward.
2. Flexibility or one size fits all.
Are you giving your customers options to solve their immediate problem or it is just X and if you don’t like it, or the price isn’t right, then tough? Customers want a balance between some choice and no choice at all but not an endless choice. Remember, choice complicates the sale so overloading a customer with options could do as much damage as being inflexible.
3. Good, better or best.
Too often, we forget many people want to start a relationship with our business at a small price point so they can determine if we are the right fit, we can be trusted and we can deliver on our promises. So, we need to offer different price point options for people to come into our world, and just because they start on our good option, doesn’t mean they will always stay there. In addition, cash flow can be greatly enhanced by high numbers purchasing a low price point so please don’t dismiss the value of this sale.
“So, I think instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.”- Scott Cook.
We all know customers come first and without them, we don’t have a business, but unfortunately, we sometimes forget this due to the excitement about a new product or service or complacency because we get used to doing things in a particular way or at a particular time. But this only means it’s easier for us but not always easier for our customers which is the whole point, isn’t it?
If you believe you may have fallen into the ‘my way or the highway’ thinking, then I encourage you to stop and review the above three considerations to see if there’s a way you can gain (or bring back) more customers with just a few simple timing tweaks.
You’ll know if you’re successful by an increase in your bank balance and word of mouth referrals, and decreased stress which comes from regular business coming in the door.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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