As the pandemic ends, many small businesses are showing increasing optimism about the future and the growth of the US economy. Many businesses are confident that they will be able to hire more personnel going forward. 28% of businesses intend to create new jobs within the next three months, a record high.
Despite these signs of optimism, as well as the overall economic growth of the economy, there are still several challenges small businesses face. International COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place, severely hampering tourist numbers. This has dealt a blow to small businesses in popular tourist destinations who rely heavily on summer tourists. Problems with international supply chains have caused problems such as longer shipping times and higher costs, eating into the already thin margins that small businesses face. Despite plans to hire more employees, many small businesses are facing problems recruiting personnel due to a shortage of qualified applicants or being unable to meet the higher salary demands of workers.
In spite of these potential problems, the economy is definitely on the up and consumer spending is beginning to rise again. Increased public backlash against large retailers like Amazon and a growing need to support local communities could also go some way to divert customers towards their hometown shops and restaurants. Let’s take a look at some of the ways small businesses can attract more customers.
- Increasing footfall. After being cooped up at home for the better part of a year, many people are thrilled just to leave their homes and walk around. Businesses should take advantage of this crowd to maximize the curb appeal of their shops, helping them to attract more people in. There are several ways this can be done. For example, personalization often goes a long way in making your business feel more inviting. Simple items like customized logo mats, handwritten menu boards or catalogues, and an appealing display window can help draw customers into your store.
- Partnerships. Now more than ever, we are truly all in this together. Consider partnering with other small businesses in the community to come to an arrangement which will benefit both parties. This could be something simple like displaying fliers or advertisements for each others’ stores in your own shop. You could also offer discounts for your partner’s shop to your own customers, and vice versa. Complementary businesses could also come together to organise an event or a workshop that will both give your community something to do and potentially boost profits for everyone involved.
- Online. Even in a small community, the internet is key. While you don’t have to turn your business into Amazon, try to make sure that you at least have an appealing website which makes it easy for customers to find out more about you, your store, and the products you sell. Having a presence on a social media network like Facebook will also enable potential customers to ask you any questions they might have, and the personal connection you establish with them will make them more likely to visit your store.
- Keep in touch. Now is the best time to get back in touch with your old regular customers you haven’t seen for a while. Try to personalize your outreach to them, as this will make the customer feel more valued. Including a small incentive to visit your store, like a limited time discount, might also help to entice them back to your store. You can also use “Bring a Friend” promotions to expand your consumer base. Every new person you bring through your doors could potentially be your next great lead, so don’t be shy about leveraging your existing customer base to attract new people.
- Word of mouth. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool any business, small or large, could hope to have. Satisfied customers will spread the word about your business far and wide, and their family and friends will listen. In addition to having a great product, you should also make sure that the customer experience in your store is top class. Additional perks like loyalty programs and referral discounts could also go a long way to turning your existing customers into walking billboards.
- Personal touch. The personal touch is the most important asset that a small business has. Often, the relationship that a customer has with the owner is what keeps them coming back to the store. In the age of faceless monoliths like Walmart and Amazon, many people are seeking that personal connection. Build strong relationships with your customers. Often, that’s all it takes to make them lifelong patrons.
While times have been difficult for small businesses, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. People have witnessed the destruction of their local businesses first hand and are now more likely to want to support businesses that remain standing. Take advantage of this sentiment to bring in more customers and get your business growing again.