It’s a constant struggle in any small business to improve operations, keep customers satisfied, grow revenues, and increase profits. But many times these very things that are so important to a small business cost money—just what a small business doesn’t have! Here are 10 “no-cost” ways to accomplish these very important results:
1. Make a Strong First Impression
Customers can be finicky. Businesses have to make a good (or great) first impression because they never get a second chance to make that first good impression. Of course, we’ve all heard that before, but it is especially important when dealing with customers. Impress them the first time so they return. No cost, but a little effort.
2. Segment your Marketing Efforts
Different markets take different market approaches. Segment your business’s marketing efforts for maximum penetration and effectiveness. Dividing and conquering takes the same amount of dollars but produces much greater results.
3. Don’t Hesitate with Prospects
When a prospect is ready to act, strike while the iron’s hot. Be prepared to “close the sale” by returning a call, having paperwork completed, being able to deliver—whatever it takes. Wait until tomorrow and the prospect might be your competitor’s newest customer.
4. Hone Your Sales Pitch
Buyers don’t care about how a product is made or the intricate details of how a service is performed. Buyers care about satisfying needs, solving problems, and feeling good about a purchase. Make sure your pitch hits the right mark with customers, and sales will become much easier.
5. Connect with Customers
Customers love attention from owners and managers. A few seconds, a few minutes, a short note, or a quick phone call can turn a customer into a faithful company advocate. A little time and energy today versus long-term loyalty tomorrow is a great trade-off.
6. Exchange Creative Ideas with Peers
Form a “no name” group with business associates to discuss whatever topic might come up. No set time or place, no agenda, nothing formal—just spur-of-the-moment invitations to participate in an informal small business “think tank.” The possibilities for positive ideas are endless, all for just the cost of a cup of coffee.
7. Develop Goodwill Ambassadors
Other than you, the business owner, who knows your business the best? It’s most likely your best customers. Ask them what they think, receive their honest feedback, and use this information to make your business better for them. This is a no-cost investment that will transform your most loyal customers into goodwill ambassadors.
8. Treat Everyone Like a Customer
Ever notice the difference with some businesses in how you’re treated one way as a prospect and another way as a customer? Which do you prefer? Which do you think your customers prefer? When you treat customers as prospects, they can tell the difference—just as you would. Don’t lose customers over an attitude; taking the reverse approach and treating everyone they way you would treat a customer will mean an increase in customers at the end of the day.
9. Treat All Customers Equally Well
Do you treat customers the same way whether they spend $20 or $2,000? You should. You never know when the $20 customer is going to turn into a $2,000 customer, or how many $2,000 customers the $20 customer knows. Keeping all your customers satisfied is key to your business success.
10. Embrace Positive Change
Customers love positive change and seeing new offerings from the businesses they frequent. Never stop striving to make your business better; it’s like building something new every year with the discarded parts from the old. Let your competition remain stale while your business projects a modern and up-to-date image to the marketplace.