Sometimes it can just seem unfair! The amount of money that big retail chains can throw at marketing, running TV ads, full coupon inserts in the newspaper, large-scale mailer campaigns and more, can be overwhelming. So how is a small local business to compete?
Well, the truth is that as a local business, you have a lot of advantages that the big guys can’t compete with. Here are a couple of key advantages you can use to boost sales and win over your customers’ loyalty starting today!
ADD CONVENIENCE – IT’S WORTH MORE THAN PRICE TO MOST CUSTOMERS
One major way to add convenience, is to offer delivery. For a large chain to do so is a huge investment of time, money, and resources, but for a small business, just as your business itself is smaller in scale, so is the barrier to entry to such a simple convenience for your customers.
Check out your competition. If none of them are offering delivery, then find a way to do so! I’ve even seen grocery stores that not only deliver, they shop customers’ orders as well, so disabled or busy clients can shop online from the convenience of their homes, and then have their groceries brought right to their doors. This kind of outside-the-box thinking (unless you’re a pizza shop of course!) can add tens of thousands of dollars a month in revenue, and can make a small, locally-owned business a serious competitor for the big chains you compete with!
Another example is car repair shops. Offer loaner cars, not just rides! If you have a staff of mechanics, you can probably put together a small fleet of decent, if not top-of-the-line, loaner cars, for a couple thousand bucks. Just a few customers who drop their oil changes off, instead of waiting for them, can mean that much and more to your monthly profit margins, when instead of looking at their watch, biting their lip, and saying they just don’t have the time for that brake job you want to do for them, they’re already in your loaner car, living out the rest of their day, and it’s easy for them to just say yes!
FORM ALLIANCES WITH OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES
You’d be surprised. Local businesses, even in mildly related or completely unrelated industries, can often provide each other a lot of support! Sometimes this comes in the form of cross-referrals. People who shop local tend to like to do so as much as possible, so if you can tell them about your friend down the street with another business they might be interested in patronizing, they just might do so. If that other business then does the same, you’ve just both increased your sales!
But it can go further than that. That grocery store I mentioned eventually formed an alliance with a local courier service, instead of providing delivery themselves. They still shop the orders, but the courier gets tons of extra delivery business, while the grocery store no longer has to maintain its own fleet of vehicles, including drivers and insurance costs. A big win for both businesses, and not something the manager of a branch of a major chain has the authority to do. But you, as a small business owner, can think as creatively as you want to improve your sales and your customer relationships!
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