In Part 1 of a four-part series on recession-proofing your business, I provided 24 strategies to help you weather a market downturn. This instalment provides additional ways to support your business during times of economic uncertainty. Remember, if you implement just two each month for the next year, you’ll have two-dozen strategies in place by the end of 2024 that will help your business thrive regardless of market conditions.
Your building could burn down along with all your inventory, equipment and vehicles, and insurance would cover it. Yes, it would be a blow to your business but you could recover because all those things are not your business. Your business is your list of customers. If you lost your past customers you’d literally have to start anew. That’s why staying in touch with them is so important.
1. Mail a hand-written thank you card to customers after every completed job. Your salespeople can do this as part of their routine paperwork.
2. Mail a hand-written customer appreciation card ‘just because.’ If you mail 10 every week, then each year more than 500 of your past customers will receive one that expresses gratitude for them, their referrals and continued business.
3. If you don’t currently connect with past customers on a regular basis, then you need to do so via mail or e-mail as repeated customer connections help build relationships and sales conversions. A printed or e-newsletter are both good options. Including a special offer ‘exclusively for clients of your business’ will make them feel extra special.
When the market slows down, the prospect pie shrinks. An affordable, highly effective way to increase the size of your pie is to cut yourself a slice of other businesses’ pies. You can do this by establishing referral partnerships with realtors, designers, remodellers, cleaners, property managers and so on.
4. Make a list of 50 potential referral partners in your area. Each week, reach out to five using this process: mail or express ship an introductory letter that says you’ll call them in a week; call and arrange a lunch or coffee meeting; and then meet with them and establish the relationship.
5. Maintain the partnership by sending referrals your newsletter, dropping off pastries or lunch occasionally and keeping them supplied with business cards.
6. Host referral partnership appreciation/networking events a couple times per year.
7. Take one referral partner to lunch every week.
8. Join networking groups like LeTip, Business Network International (commonly known as BNI), your local chamber of commerce and charitable organizations.
9. Subscribe all members of these networking groups to your newsletter.
10. Take one member out to lunch every week.
11. When money is tight like during a recession, it’s important to make people aware that you offer financing as it can increase sales. Promote financing in your newsletter and e-mail signature line, using Google ads, on social media and store signage. Also, train your salespeople to offer financing as part of the sales process.
Jim Augustus Armstrong is founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. To obtain a free copy of Jim’s groundbreaking flooring industry report, Stop Leaving Millions on the Table, visit FloorMillions.com. Jim can be reached at 530-790-6720 or [email protected].