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“Center city is a ghost town”

“Center city is a ghost town”

The business owner on the other end of the phone was suffering from slow holiday sales, but claimed she wasn’t alone. For whatever reason, the downtown shopping area was not seeing the usual traffic and it was hitting her numbers – hard.

She asked me for help to boost her store’s seasonal sales.

This isn’t a situation any business owner wants to be in. Staring at the last page of the Month-at-a Glance calendar and realizing you’re not going to hit your numbers is never a good feeling.

Here’s the thing…it can be comforting to know that other business owners are seeing the same downturn. But that doesn’t actually help your business.

Be the exception! Be the business that’s sprinting through the finish of another amazing growth year. I’ve seen clients who buck the downward trends in retail. Here are just a few ways to be the business whose numbers are thriving this holiday season.

Now, ideally, your year-end plans were in the works months ago, and now you’re simply in execution mode. Ultimate success doesn’t come from the “fly by the seat of your pants” method.

But that’s not what we’re discussing today.

Sometimes, especially in small businesses, the holidays sneak up on business owners. Sometimes promotions don’t go according to plan.

Sometimes you simply need a little extra elbow grease to goose your year-end numbers.

When you’re up against a deadline, you need a few tricks up your sleeve.

Here are three quick and dirty steps you can take to boost revenue – fast.

A Birdie Told Me…

This is a two-step strategy, and it works like a champ.

Step 1: Have customers fill out a wish list while they’re in your business. Whether you’re selling in person or online, it’s easy enough to create a form. Encourage customers to dream big (and small). Make sure you get them to add all the necessary information to make it SUPER SIMPLE to locate the exact item from the wish list. You may want your employees to help with this, especially in a bricks-and-mortar environment.

Step 2: Create a “Birdie Told Me” mechanism. Your “Birdie Told Me” can be a card your customers can slip to family members so they know exactly where to go to find the perfect gift for your customer. It can be an email you send your customer that they can forward. Maybe you want to go one step forward, and send your “Birdie Told Me” directly to a spouse.

However you use the “Birdie Told Me”, you make it super simple for customers to get exactly what they want (and saving friends and family from having to guess)!

Check It…

Here’s another easy way to use checklists to boost revenue.

Write up a checklist of every person a customer might need to buy gifts for this holiday season. From friends to family, try to imagine anyone a customer could find the perfect gift for in your business.

Cousins? Check!
Secret Santas? Got ‘em!
Clients? Maybe!

Make sure to leave a few blanks lines on your list.

Now – help your customers solve their buying blues. The more folks they can knock off the shopping list, the more you’re helping them get through the season with sanity and good cheer.

(And, of course, you’ll want to make sure to take extra good care of these folks by having gift wrap options available.)

Let Your Fingers Do The Walking…

While options one and two are great for boosting revenue for folks who are already in your biz, first you gotta get ‘em there. For that, we go old school.

I present…the telephone.

Yes, the phone. Picking up the phone to personally reach out to your best customers is so easy, but so often overlooked.

Find the time to make a few phone calls a day and invite your best customers personally to spend some time with you to shop for everyone else. And maybe a little something for themselves, too…

But don’t just call them up to say “hey, come buy my stuff.” Show them you care by inviting them into an experience. Treat them like VIPs.

Even if you don’t have a system for rewarding VIPs – and you should – there’s still time to create a VIP offer to make your best customers feel amazing.

Pro tips for VIPs offers:

DO think about upgrades and that something special that sets you apart from everyone else. Something as simple as cracking a bottle of bubbly says “this isn’t the same old, same old.” But don’t stop there. People want to feel cared for!

What can you offer your VIPs?

DON’T chase the discounting game to the bottom. As a small business owner you simply can’t compete with big businesses that are slashing their prices to the bone.

Imagine what you would want to experience in a business you love, and create that for your best customers.

Finally – don’t get distracted. It’s better to pick ONE strategy and focus on being awesome with it. The goal is to add revenue while reducing overwhelm.

When something works for you, share your success in the comments and on Facebook. Make this a resource for business owners. When everyone shares, we all get better and serve our customers at an even deeper level.

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