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About Coast river business journal. (Astoria, OR) 2006-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 11, 2019)
14 • DECEMBER 2019
COAST RIVER BUSINESS JOURNAL
Building your business for future:
There’s no time like the ‘present’
he holiday season is in full swing.
People have saved up, are shopping
for Christmas, and are looking for
the “right” gift for family and friends. For
many businesses this is a make or break
time of the year, with up to 40% of annual
sales happening in November/December,
and most of the year’s profit coming during
this time, as well. There are more custom-
ers coming through the doors than most any
other time of the year. It is the perfect time
to show your customers that you deserve
their business during this season, and any
1 minute of entering your business. Make
sure your employees are product trained so
they can speak with knowledge to potential
customers. Treat the customer like they are a
guest in your own home.
As the business owner/manager, set the
standard and set the tone with your employ-
ees. They look to you for leadership and
direction. Show your employees how
important it is to greet the customers within
Offer products and services that are
unique, compelling, current and desirable.
With all the discussion about big box
stores taking so much business from small
businesses, turn it around and make sure the
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products carried in your business are differ-
ent than products carried by big box stores
that are bought with a national sales plan in
mind and no thought to our local tastes and
Do note it is an advantage to have the
amount of big box stores in our region as it
attracts shoppers from all over our region,
including our neighbors in Washington, and
they will come into our small businesses
throughout Clatsop County, where you can
“WOW” them with your great assortments!
Don’t try to be all over the board in the
merchandise you carry. Carry products that
complement each other. Stock the best sell-
ers that can be reordered. 20% of the prod-
ucts will give you 80% of the revenue. You
don’t want to be out of stock on these most
profitable items. It also allows you the flex-
ibility to bring in new products to keep the
excitement of “what’s new” for your cus-
tomers while not devoting too much of your
budget to this unproven item/category. This
is especially important during the slower
sales times of the year.
When product does not sell, mark it
down to a price that will move the merchan-
dise. A minimum standard is at least 25%
off. It varies by industry, but in the depart-
ment store world I grew up in, products had
to sell at least 5% per week to justify regu-
lar price selling. That equates to 20% of the
inventory selling in one month. Remember
that merchandise is NOT like a fine wine.
It does NOT get better with age! Too many
businesses hold onto merchandise too long,
and it clogs cash flow and ability to bring in
newness, the lifeblood of any retail business.
Window display and store
Always make sure the windows of your
business showcase your best products and
are reflective of the season. It is amazing
what inexpensive holiday lighting can do in
your exterior windows to attract attention
to your business. Speaking of lighting, keep
your front windows well-lit during business
hours and after closing until 9-10 p.m. to
attract window shoppers who are dining in
some of our fine local restaurants or coming
out of a cultural event.
When customers come into your busi-
ness, don’t just spend the time creating
displays at the front of the store. Do this
DO YOU KNOW THAT
ACQUIRING A NEW
CUSTOMER CAN COST SIX
TO SEVEN TIMES MORE
THAN RETAINING AN
throughout to bring customers in and to
have them spend time in your entire store.
Store standards are not the most excit-
ing thing, but just as important as everything
reviewed to this point. Make sure the store is
clean, dusted, well-maintained, has a pleas-
ant scent (some of our older buildings have
a musty odor) the merchandise is priced,
and there is a “clearance corner” to attract
that bargain shopper.
Summary best practices
Remember the 80/20 rule — 80% of
your business comes from 20% of your cus-
tomers. Treat those customers with utmost
respect. Go out of your way to thank them
for their business by giving them first noti-
fication of events. Have this customer be an
“insider.” They will be your top ambassa-
dor and sing your praises through WOM, or
word of mouth
Do you know that acquiring a new cus-
tomer can cost six to seven times more than
retaining an existing customer? Make sure
you are treating all your customers with stel-
lar service, but never lose sight of the impor-
tance of your regular, loyal customers. They
are your best ambassadors.
Last, and not least, extend your store
hours during this holiday season. Be open
when people are shopping. This does not
mean staying open late, but can be as sim-
ple as staying open until 7 p.m. during the
week and having special hours on Saturday
and Sunday. Limited store hours keep poten-
tial customers from coming into your busi-
ness. This “test” can assist you with look-
ing at expanding your hours during the rest
of the year.
Utilize these retail basics, and you will
look forward to building a successful busi-
ness for the long term.