Traditional business advice isn’t always best served to small business owners. Don’t agree? Just ask any entrepreneur and you’ll likely find that what has worked for them doesn’t mimic the advice their large, big-box competitors may have followed. Keeping this in mind, consider the following tips aimed specifically at small businesses.
Tip #1: Do Not Aim To Match or Beat Prices Offered by Competitors
Price may win among retailers that include Walmart, Amazon and Target – as well as countless other larger businesses in a variety of categories - but smaller businesses know all too well they typically can’t compete in this big-box space when it comes to dollars. Instead? This is where smaller businesses have the chance to thrive in offering other experiences that stand-out from prices alone. Of course, price will factor into the overall impression any business leaves on consumers, but when combined with other experiences price can often become overlooked thanks to the many other factors that can outshine it.
Tip #2: Deliver Customer Service That Makes a Lasting Impression
Parker, Colorado based cupcake shop Nomelie Cupcakes was a business “not doing well due to a lack of good customer service and absence of quality control on product quality,” as explained by current store co-owner Soumya Sen. Together with his business partner and wife, Avantika Sen, the Sens aimed to bring new life and profitable success to the ailing bakery by making the business “customer centric”. As Avantika explains, their goal was to “provide the best customer service possible.” To make this happen, Nomelie knew they had to become “more than just cupcakes” and soon became the “forefront of major community events and initiatives,” as explained by Soumya Sen.
The Sens approach to bringing new life to a dying cupcake shop was built around more than just tasty cupcakes, but instead around the idea that delivering outstanding customer service would lift their store to where it needed to be. As it turns out, they were right. Their cupcake shop excels in community partnerships, customer service and has a consistent presence in their community that had not existed before. Beyond their store walls, Nomelie is known around town for their memorable customer care and genuine community support. These two factors – combined with great tasty cupcakes and more – are what have grown Nomelie… and continue to help them thrive in a town saturated with big-box competitors. As for the sales that were previously lacking? They continue to grow everyday, which is an accomplishment any small business owner can be proud of.
Tip #3: Create a Loyalty Program That Encourages Repeat Customers
Big or small, businesses gain the opportunity for increased customer retention and more frequent spending when loyalty programs are offered. You can create one that is digital, mobile, or even old-fashioned by using paper and a hole puncher, but the idea is that you create one that makes sense for your business and your customers. As the U.S. Small Business Administration suggests, “the key is creating a program that is accessible to all and easy to use.” Another tip to help your loyalty program thrive? Give it extra TLC so that it stands out among your other marketing efforts, including your business newsletters, via social media and of course, whenever you’re tending to customers and during any customer communication. Aim to have it stand out as a well-respected perk to customers experiencing your business – and one that they want to experience again and again.
Finally, consider what motivated you to begin your small business in the first place. Was it a passion for what you sell? A motivation to offer more to a community or general business niche that wasn’t being filled before? Whatever your “why” was, make sure your “why” continues to lead you in your small business efforts. This can fuel you to make smarter, more focused decisions that don’t have to blend in with what your big-box competitors are getting recognized for. So while it’s important to know what your competition is up to, make sure you also know how to tune them out when narrowing in on your own small business plans.