It's a constant struggle in any small business to improve operations, keep customers satisfied, grow revenues, and improve 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. But, here are 10 no-cost ways to accomplish these very important results.
1. One chance – Customers are finicky. Businesses have to make a great first impression because they never get a second chance to make a first impression again. 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.
2. Market segmentation – Different markets take different market approaches. Segment your business’ marketing efforts for maximum penetration and effectiveness. Dividing and conquering takes the same amount of money but produces greater results.
3. Act, don’t delay – 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, be able to deliver, or whatever it takes. Wait until tomorrow, and the prospect might very well be your competitor’s newest customer.
4. Satisfaction – 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. The marketing and sales pitch must hit the right mark with customers; then, closing becomes much easier.
5. Customer connection – 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 company advocate. A little time and energy today versus long-term loyalty tomorrow is a great trade-off.
6. Creative ideas – 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.” Possibilities for positive ideas are endless, maybe just for the cost of a cup of coffee.
7. Goodwill ambassadors – Other than owners and employees, who knows the business better than anyone? Maybe, it's customers. Ask what they think, receive honest feedback, and build loyalty as a result. Use loyal customers as goodwill ambassadors to expand marketing efforts.
8. Changing Attitude – Ever notice the difference in some businesses how you're treated one way as a prospect and another way as a customer? Which do you think customers prefer? When customers are always treated as prospects and not taken for granted, they see the difference. A change in attitude, for the positive, can create long-term customer retention.
9. Customer satisfaction – Are customers treated the same regardless how much money they spend? They 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. One no-cost business objective should be to keep all customers satisfied all the time.
10. Rearrangement – Any business can change something to make it better and different. Customers love change. It's like building something new every year with the discarded parts from everything old. Let the competition remain the same while your business becomes more progressive, a great formula for growth.