Running a business is tough.  Annoyingly, lots of other people are usually competing with you and a lot of hard work (and a bit of luck), is usually needed.  Many businesses hit a brick wall at a fairly early stage.  Here are 5 simple tips that don’t require too much effort or money that might make your chances of survival and success more likely.

Do what you say you're going to do

If, for example, you run a restaurant and you advertise that you’re open until 9pm, then open till 9pm.  This can be tough if it’s 7pm and your restaurant resembles a ghost town with not a single customer in sight.

For a time, a colleague of mine hung out a fair bit in a coffee shop almost every day.  He became a part of the furniture and would buy multiple cups of very nice, premium-priced coffee.

The owner had a couple of quiet periods and closed early.  After the second occurrence my colleague found a similar coffee shop nearby that ran a more reliable operation.  The effect in this case was the loss of a customer who was buying between 5 and 10 cups of coffee a week.  I feel sorry for this business; the owner was a nice guy but after 2 sets of 10-minute walks there and back, my colleague decided to make a different choice.

The same applies in an office environment; if you say you will send someone an email by Friday, then you should reach the deadline.  If something weird or wonderful happens in the meantime, then you can always give them a call and say something has come up and let them know a new time to expect that email.

Simplify and focus

When costs are high and customers are not quite as abundant as we would like, it can be a good idea to diversify our offering.  Perhaps a hotel can focus on offering tours or massages as well as accommodation as an example.  But be careful with this idea.

McDonald’s sell burgers, yes, they sell salads now too, but they specialise in doing a few things well.  A restaurant with an 18-page menu selling everything from Mexican fajitas to chicken kormas is likely to do nothing that well, it will confuse the customer and you will have to buy huge amounts of different stock that will often go rotten, making the problem worse.  More product doesn’t usually equate to more sales.

Be nice

People buy from people.  Even companies that sell business-to-business are really selling person-to-person, so be nice to your customers, remember their names, make them feel special.  A little gift goes a long way – thank you cards, birthday cards, etc.

Be nice to your staff, chances are they will in turn be nice to your customers. If you have a staff member that has developed an attitude problem then deal with it, it’s hurting your sales.

Even outside of work it’s best to be on your best behaviour, everyone is a potential customer and your personality is attached to your business reputation.

Trust Your Staff

If you work behind the scenes and your staff work on the front line with customers, then ask them why you’re losing sales or things aren’t going so well.

Before you make any major changes, ask for their opinion – you might be the boss, but they’re the experts on your customers.  Use their knowledge to improve your business.

Add some special touches to stand out

If you’re strapped for cash this can be a tough one, but you need to offer something your competitors don’t – add value.

Sometimes hair salons offer a cup of coffee to customers while they’re waiting to see the hairdresser and some tour companies have a photographer who takes great photos of guests which are then emailed to the guest afterwards, a great way to increase brand awareness through word of mouth and get referrals.

The key to success for a lot of businesses is a great marketing strategy.  We have some great cost-effective ideas and we don’t charge for a bit of advice.  Use the contact button below to discuss your requirements.

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