Cash crunch. Tough times. Slow sales. So you do anything and everything you can think of to bring in more customers. But is that really going to solve the problem? Short term, sure. And I know it’s hard to think long term when you’re stressing out about paying the bills! There are some other factors to consider though, and it’s worth thinking about before you take drastic action to bring in more sales this month. Because believe me, short term gain can bring long term pain if you’re not being strategic with your business. Use the following checklist next time your business hits a lull in sales:
- Are you operating within your margins? If you don’t have a solid system in place keeping your overhead low and ensuring a decent profit from each transaction, you’re not going to be profitable no matter how many sales you bring in. Seems simple, yet a lot of businesses fail here. I know of cafe that used Groupon to bring in new customers, but the deal they offered was too good–almost bankrupting the business.
- Is your product or service truly awesome? Be honest about this. If you’re selling sub-par stuff, people might come by for a big sale or special event, but they won’t stick around, they won’t come back, and they won’t recommend you to their friends.
- Are your employees happy? If your staff is stressed out, miserable, bored, or they feel unappreciated, your bottom line will suffer. Of course, I believe in treating employees well because it’s the right thing to do (and it feels good to go above and beyond to make my staff happy!) but in a very practical sense, unhappy employees cost you money, big time. They won’t be as efficient or engaged, they won’t deliver great customer service – potentially alienating customers, and you could have employees stealing from you because they don’t feel any sense of loyalty. Plus, it costs a lot to hire and train new employees, so you’re much better off making an investment in your staff to keep them happily employed with you.
- Are you selling the wrong product or service for your market? I was very careful in choosing a product that would be popular in my market – my current business specializes in fruit smoothies, which goes over well in my area because of the dry desert heat. People are always looking for refreshment during the hot summer months! If I was in a cooler, wetter climate I don’t think I would be doing as well. If you didn’t do enough market research before you started your business, and your sales are down, take some time to research now. If you need to switch gears, it’s better to find out sooner than later.