For small business owners, it seems that nothing invokes fear quite as much as an unstable economy. The impact of external forces means customers may not be as inclined to spend, and suddenly what was once a booming business may become a forgotten thought in the minds of clients. However, there are a few steps you can take to encourage both existing and new clients to seek your services.
While consumers may be spending less, they are still spending. It is therefore crucial that you stand out from the crowd. Good customer service never goes out of fashion, and often customers are happy to pay a little extra in order to get a higher level of service. It’s important to create positive associations with your business every time you interact with a client. So remember, even if someone doesn’t purchase your product straight away, they will always remember how they felt when dealing with your business.
Avoid heavily discounting your products/services
We sometimes think that if we slash our prices it will automatically translate into greater sales. However, a client may see this as an act of desperation or even question whether your product is defective or undesirable in some way. There is also the added problem of re-establishing previous prices once things pick up again.
Develop new products or services
If you do want to offer lower prices, rather than discounting existing ones, consider developing new or different products to cater for this. For example, a car wash may introduce a basic wash at a lower price than usual, or a beauty salon may introduce mini facials at a lower price. This way you are not downplaying your original product, but offering an entirely new one.
The quiet times can invoke fear in many small business owners, but they can also be a great time to invest in innovation. Look at improving your systems, developing new ideas and catching up on neglected aspects of your business for when things get back to normal.
Increase low-cost advertising
While it may not be a good time to invest huge amounts into advertising, consider low-cost options such as online campaigns and the use of social media. An email run to old clients could help remind them of your services.
Increase your networking
Now is the time to network. Get your name out there and re-establish old connections with business contacts. Effective networking will have your contacts doing the most of the advertising for you.
Look after existing clients
While it may seem like the time to focus solely on attracting new clients, it’s important that you don’t forget your existing one, as it tends to be those loyal, long-term customers that keep us afloat during the difficult times. Consider offering flagship clients special promotions or one-off sales/exclusive offers. This will not only encourage them to return, but will make them feel special and more likely to continue doing business with you.
Talk to your team
Even though you don’t want to illicit fear or worry your team, the hard times can be useful for drawing some ideas and inspiration from them. Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to come up with some new concepts or simply new ways of doing things.
An unstable economy doesn’t have to mean the end of your business. With a little lateral thinking and making the effort to encourage both existing and new client to do business with you, your company can sail through the hard times and come out stronger than before.