The recession is being felt not just by individuals, but also by businesses, especially the small businesses. People have less money to spend and customers are hard to find. This is a good time to look at ways to increase your sales without breaking the bank.
Whether you offer services or goods, your business needs to be constantly looking for ways to grow by increasing its sales. One way you can do this is by recruiting new customers. This is both hard and expensive.
There is a cheaper and easier way: You can start by getting more sales from your current customers.
Here are 16 tips you can use to increase your sales:
1. Offer your customers reliable goods and services. This will make them come back and they will recommend you to their friends. Bolting good customer care to your offer will create loyal customers.
2. Offer competitive prices. Find out what your competitors are charging and price your goods at a price that is neither too high nor too low.
3. Arrange your goods so that the complementing goods are stacked nearby. The tough economy forces people to go for essential items. Placing luxury items nearby makes it more likely that your customers will notice them, think about them and maybe, even make an impulse buy.
4. Make your customers feel special and show them you value their service. One way you can do this is by giving your regular customers discounts or lines of extended credit.
5. Start a reward system for your customers. Big shops with big budgets can afford a system where the customer earns loyalty points each time they spend in the shop. The points are stored on a loyalty card and can be redeemed for cash or payment of goods in their chain of shops.
As a small business, you can work out a simpler system. You offer them a discount when they have shopped a specific number of times or when they get goods above a certain amount.
6. Give customers privileged information. Tell your customers about your forthcoming sale or promotional activity and encourage them to come back and benefit from cheaper sales.
7. Promotions and sales. This is one way of encouraging customers to buy more, and more frequently from you.
8. Reward your staff when they make more sales. When your staff feel appreciated, they will perform better.
9. Listen to your customers. Your most critical customer is your most valuable asset in helping you see what your customers want. Put up a suggestions box or carry out a survey before they leave your shop. When a customer complains, handle the matter urgently. For every customer who speaks out, there may be ten or more who have chosen to keep quiet.
10. Upsell to your customers whenever they buy something. This is a practice where you offer them something else related to what they have bought, and which will add to their enjoyment of the item or service. A shoe shop might encourage a customer who has just bought shoes to consider buying a can of shoe polish to prolong the life of the leather on their new shoes.
Having your own website and having a Twitter and Facebook profile is a good way of reaching your younger customers. KitweOnline Offers a web creating service – get in touch to find out more.
One way of monitoring the success of your advertising efforts is to ask your customers how they heard about you and what made them come in today.
12. Use Social media to stay in touch with your customers and to reach new customers. One of the companies doing this in Kitwe is Klub Vegas Kitwe. They have set up a Facebook profile where they announce their up-coming events at the club. This makes it easier for their customers to plan ahead and attend their functions. It will also pull in new customers through comments on blogs and in chat rooms. Another example that comes to mind (did you see what just happened there?) is Richard Chanter's Livingstone Lodge. He is active on Twitter and engages with his clients and potential clients.
13. Networking: Find ways to work with other companies offering complementary goods or services. Plan some joint events or promotions where you can all benefit from bringing your customers together.
The Kitwe Chamber of Commerce is a great opportunity to network with other business owners, locally and globally. Find out how you can link your business to others through them.
14. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you. Once upon a time, there was a very successful grocery in Kitwe’s Chamboli township. One of the things they used to do at month-ends was to load a truck full of 50kg maize-meal bags. The truck would then drive around all the streets, honking the horn as they went. People would line up outside their houses to buy their bag of mealie meal. People appreciated not having to go and queue up at the grocery, and then having to find a way of lugging the bag home.
You can think of an equivalent way of making life easier for your customers. This might be getting an extra shop assistant at peak times, in order to cut down on queuing time at the till.
15. Freebies. Everybody likes free stuff. Is there something you can give away to increase the numbers of customers coming through your doors? This can be an effective way of generating a profit.
16. QR Codes. As more of your customers own smart phones, you can take advantage and spread information about your business through QR codes. These are chequered black and white patterns that a smart phone can interpret into text or graphics:
a. Your telephone number
b. Business address
c. Your website URL
d. A photo of your goods
e. Details of your sales and other promotional offers
f. There are many clever ways you can use this code.
You can print it on the back of your business card, on your letterhead, t-shirts, magazines, or even have it posted on your website. Instead of people scribbling your details on napkins, they can just take a photo of the code with their smart phone and thereby upload the information to their phone.
Scan the QR code below and you will get the contact details of our KitweOnline Correspondent, Richard Katebe, complete with phone number and email address. No more scribbling on pieces of paper.
You can generate your own code using your smart phone (e.g. using Scan Manager from the Android market for smartphones) or on the internet using freely available programs.
After installing the software on your phone, you can just take a photo to decipher the code and store it in your contacts or email it to a friend. You will also be able to generate your own codes from various sources of information.
KitweOnline is offering a service to Kitwe businesses to create your own QR code free of charge. Send us an email in the form below, indicating your company name, address and phone number and email address. Include a brief paragraph about what your business is about. We will generate the code with your details and email it back to you. You can then print that wherever you want your customers to scan your details from.
Let us know what you think of these tips. Share your experiences with our readers.