Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, but all too often, small businesses run into roadblocks that can cause them to fail or at least become stagnant. Especially during Covid-19, if you want to see your business grow and thrive, we have suggestions for how you can make that happen. Don’t leave the success of your small business up to chance. Jump on the following opportunities to grow your business.
How to Grow Your Small Business During Covid-19:
- Refresh Your Brand
- Focus on Customer Service
- Advertise Locally
- Sanitize and Offer Curbside Pickup and/or Delivery
- Offer Promotions
- Manage Your Inventory
- Add Credit Card Processing
- Implement Customer Loyalty Program
- Use an All-In-One POS
1. Refresh Your Brand
Your brand encompasses all aspects of your business’s identity. It includes basic elements like your name and logo and more conceptual elements like your company’s core values and your overall personality as a business. The goal for most businesses is for their brand to make a positive and memorable impression. Whether you operate a hair salon, a grocery store or a clothing boutique, you want your business to be the one that comes to a person’s mind when they think about whatever category your business fits into. This is especially important at a time when many customers are unable to visit in person due the pandemic. Strong branding can help you make a lasting impression and can help project the positive values you want people to associate with your business. If you think your branding may not be doing these things for you, then it’s time for a refresh.
Rebranding can mean a complete overhaul of your name, logo and more, or it can be more subtle. In some cases, hiring a graphic designer to help you come up with a more effective logo can be all the difference you need. If you’re confident in the more aesthetic aspects of your brand, you may want to focus on those more conceptual aspects. Make sure your business has a clear mission, vision and values. Did you know that 64 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to form a trusting relationship with a brand that shares their values? Branding isn’t just for your customers — it’s for you, too. Make sure your employees are familiar with your brand’s identity. When you and your employees feel confident in your company, that confidence will allow your business to grow and thrive with greater success.
2. Focus on Customer Service
Amazing customer service is one of the things that tends to attract consumers to small businesses over big box stores or bigger companies where they may pay less. The numbers don’t lie. A majority of consumers will spend more money to patronize a business that delivers superior customer service. This should be encouraging to small businesses because they are often in a better position to offer excellent customer service. When your clientele is smaller, it means you can develop closer relationships with your customers. You may even be able to greet some of your customers by name or ask after their family members or other aspects of their personal lives. However, even if you have repeat customers, you’ll never be able to develop these sorts of personal connections if you don’t take the time to say hello and make conversation. Something as simple as that can turn someone into a lifelong loyal customer. Contact loyal customers you have not seen in a long time and inquire how they are doing. Anyone in business knows that customer service isn’t always just smiles and pleasantries. Sometimes, it means handling difficult situations and trying to please a customer who is upset over something like a faulty product, a scheduling error or any number of problems that are bound to occur from time to time. In these situations, customers should know you genuinely care about solving a problem, and you should address it as quickly as possible. In every aspect of your customer service, make people feel valued, and they’ll value your business.
3. Advertise Your Business Locally
Advertising can get expensive, and it doesn’t automatically lead to growth, so you shouldn’t take out ads left and right without careful consideration. That said, some strategic advertising can certainly help you gain exposure and can help your business grow. What is strategic advertising? Boiled down, it’s advertising that gives you the highest return on your investment. The less you pay for an ad and the more customers it brings in, the better. Simple, right? But how can you pull it off? It can seem impossible to compete with large national or regional chains because they spend excessive amounts on advertising. So, rather than try to compete with this level of advertising, focus on the unique advantages you have as a small business. People are more likely to see your small business as a part of the local community. So, focus on local advertising, and emphasize your role as a part of the local landscape.
See if any restaurants include ads on their menus or tabletops. See if other businesses or community centers will let you post a flyer on their bulletin boards. You may even want to consider taking out an ad with a local radio station. The key is to keep it small so you’re not overspending and you’re still reaching the local customers who are most likely to stop into your business. It’s especially important during these trying times, to be creative and consistent with your marketing. The Small Business Administration has many affordable advertising ideas.
4. Sanitize and Offer Curbside Pickup and/or Delivery
Building customer trust and keeping foot traffic in your store during Covid-19 is critical to your survival. Going to extra lengths to sanitize your store will help customers feel more comfortable visiting in person. Put hand sanitizers around the store for customer use. Clean your restroom more frequently, with freshly scented sanitizing solutions. If you sell open, prepared food products, consider packaging them in closed containers so that they are not exposed. And even better, if you can participate on a consumer shopping app or offer a platform for your customers to order online, they can order ahead for easy pickup or home delivery.
5. Offer Product Promotions
It’s no secret that people love a good sale. Promotional deals have been a long-time strategy for retailers, and it’s no wonder. Sales can pull in new customers and keep current customers coming back. Even if they come in for a particular item that’s on sale, they’re likely to purchase other items in the store while they’re there. It’s a win for them, and it’s a win for you.
So, if you’re not currently offering any promotions, that needs to change if you want to grow. It can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to store promotions. How can you decide what to promote or place on sale? In some cases, you can make this decision based on your current circumstances. For instance, a sidewalk or clearance sale is an excellent way to attract customers while also getting rid of older inventory you no longer want to store. If you need to sell perishable items before they expire, a promotion like a buy one, get one free can help.
For regular promotions, it helps to have software that does the work for you. If you’re in the market for a point of sale (POS) system, look for software that takes the guesswork out of creating store promotions. If your POS system has a customer-facing screen, use it to display information about current or upcoming sales. This will encourage customers to come back tomorrow or next week for more great deals that help grow your business.
6. Manage Your Inventory More Effectively
Inventory is an essential aspect of so many small businesses, from restaurants to retail. Of course, different businesses have different needs when it comes to inventory tracking, but they all share a common goal of managing inventory effectively. Effective inventory management isn’t just about knowing what’s in your inventory currently. It’s about making your inventory help your business grow.
For a restaurant, that may look like accurately tracking how often and how much lettuce you need to be delivered. When you pinpoint the right delivery schedule and amount, you can make sure you always have fresh lettuce for your diners, avoid waste and maximize your profits. For a grocery store, effective inventory management tracks which products are especially popular and which may need to be eliminated from your product offerings. Does one type of cereal sell out while another simply takes up room on the shelf?
The key to successful inventory management today is to let technology do the work for you. You don’t need to base decisions on guesses or assumptions, and you don’t need to be consumed by manual tracking methods. Using outdated systems like spreadsheets for inventory management over modern cloud-based software systems can lead to mistakes that make up as much as 35 percent unnecessary costs for inventory management in a year.
If you want your business to grow, get great inventory management software for your small business, and let the data speak. If your POS system offers inventory tracking, that is an excellent way to streamline the process and take full advantage of modern technology.
7. Add Credit Card Processing
This may seem like a small thing, but if you don’t currently have an option for credit card processing, you could be stunting your company’s growth. For a small business, credit card processing may seem like an unnecessary headache. This may apply to you if your business is exceptionally small or if you sell at farmer’s markets, fairs, festivals or trade shows more than in a brick-and-mortar store. While it may have been acceptable to expect consumers to pay in cash at these venues a decade ago, that is no longer a reasonable expectation. Especially now during the pandemic, more and more customers are opting to pay with a credit card rather than exchange cash.
According to a study by the Mercator Advisory Group, 36 percent of consumers checking out in a store prefer to pay with a credit card and 33 percent with a debit card. Only 18 percent prefer paying in cash. When over two-thirds of consumers prefer to check out with a credit or debit card, you need to make that possible. Otherwise, you may lose their business.
To get started, you’ll need to have the right equipment. Purchase or rent a credit card reader where customers can swipe or insert their cards. The credit card machine for your small business should be integrated with a POS system so the system can coordinate with financial services to automate the credit card processing fees. If your credit card processor can also handle mobile wallet payments, then you can please even more customers. Never let the logistics of payment stand in the way of a sale.
8. Implement a Customer Loyalty Program
Are you aware that even just a five percent increase in customer retention can lead to more than a 25 percent increase in profit? If this number from Bain & Company seems hard to believe, keep in mind that it always costs more to acquire new customers than it does to keep your existing customers. Focusing on turning customers into repeat customers is a smart strategy if you want your business to grow and experience long-term success.
Delivering the excellent customer service we discussed earlier is one way to keep customers. Another way to encourage customer loyalty is through a loyalty program that tangibly rewards customers for their repeat business. Many consumers will shop more frequently, or even exclusively, at a store where they have a loyalty membership.
You could use a variety of models to build your customer loyalty program. A simple example is the stamp card where customers get a stamp for every $10 spent, for instance. Once their card is full, they get a special discount or even a free product. The issue with a stamp card or other manual rewards methods is that they don’t fit especially well into our modern world where customers expect processes to be automated for speed and accuracy.
A more attractive model for these consumers is a rewards program that uses modern technology. When loyalty customers can get special promotions sent to their phones and cash in on rewards by simply scanning a card, they will be more likely to stop in and make a purchase. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of making this happen. Consider taking advantage of a program that does the work for you, like the nationwide BR Club loyalty program.
9. Use an All-In-One POS System
If you want to really bring your small business to the next level, an easy and effective way to do that is by purchasing an all-in-one POS system. There are many reasons to get an all-in-one POS for your small business. If you’re currently using a manual cash register for your small business, any POS system is a significant step up from manual ways of facilitating the point of sale, but an all-in-one POS system is more like a giant leap up.
An all-in-one system includes every component you need at check out, including the cash register, credit card reader, terminal screen and receipt printer, plus the software you need to manage inventory, track sales and more. A POS system like this can streamline the way you run your business and help you do it more successfully. No one wants to deal with a multitude of tech tools that aren’t designed to work together. And no one wants to pay for all of these tools separately, either.
You should look for an all-in-one system that is cloud-based, meaning the software is stored in the cloud as opposed to being installed on your local hard drive. One advantage of cloud-based systems is that your provider can update them remotely. Another significant advantage is that you can access your data from anywhere, so even if you’re not at the store, you can still manage your store by checking in and even making changes to the system if needed.
Watch Your Business Grow, Even During Covid-19, With the POS+ From NRS
The best POS system for small businesses is the POS+ from National Retail Solutions. Our all-in-one POS system offers the best value on the market, so your small business can afford it. If you’re hesitant to make the investment, think of the many benefits your business will enjoy with modern POS hardware and software, during and after the pandemic. With the POS+, you can easily manage your inventory, track sales data, offer product promotions, encourage customer loyalty, allow customers to pay in any way they prefer and deliver a checkout experience that’s engaging and efficient.
If you’re interested in how the POS+ could help our business grow, contact us for a free quote today!