Small and Local Wins the Race

Small and Local Wins the Race
Remember - you can never be too local when fighting for customers! Martin Butler

Martin Butler is an author and lecturer specialising in how retail businesses can serve their customers better.

Here he shares his top 20 checklist for small and local business success:

1 Never forget customers have a choice…

… so you’re in the business of being chosen.

2 All customers are human beings.

Emotion plays a dominant role in decision making – so find your emotional edge.

3 Everyone is hard wired to love ‘easy’…

… so make it easy for customers to choose you.

4 Pick the battle you want to win.

It might be expertise, or quality, or uniqueness, or outstanding service, or convenience or whatever. But avoid being dragged into price wars - the big boys always win.

5 The old value equation was simply: price versus quality.

But now the ‘new’ value equation is: what I get versus what I pay… and here you can see the role of emotion. So stay clear of price, always go for value.

6 Nothing is more appealing than being different…

… so whatever battle you choose to fight, challenge yourself to ‘stand out’ by being as different as possible.

7 Ensure everyone serving knows more about the product…

… than the customers. This is a non-negotiable prerequisite.

8 Always remember you can’t get the ‘wrong person to do the right thing’.

Be very, very choosy when it comes to
hiring your workforce.

9 Happy customers are more inclined to buy…

… so make sure you and your staff are happy!

10 Genuine ‘passion’ is your most appealing feature.

There’s no substitute and nothing quite as attractive as this, presented in a memorable way.

11 Authenticity in modern business is essential…

… so is a grand ambition to be regarded
as an ‘authority’.

12 The big no longer eat the small.

Nowadays it’s the fast who eat the slow. So live ‘speed’ in everything you do - customers will love you for it.

13 Embed an imperative to say ‘yes’ to customers.

Become a positive ‘solutions’ business - even if it means losing an immediate sale by referring a customer elsewhere. Great local business is all about ‘giving a little of today, for a lot of tomorrow’. Eventually, you will become the trusted first stop for customers looking for the sort of solutions you sell.

14 Retail and service companies come face to face with customers…

… so always learn from your customers. But if you ask questions make sure you listen deeply, and when you’ve listened deeply, always, always: ACT.

15 Elevate customer service to the most important element…

… but always add emotion. That way you’ll end up with customer ‘care’ and it’s a great way to differentiate and be chosen.

16 Turn a complaint into a fan…

… when customers complain they’re in an emotionally vulnerable state. Whatever it takes, cure the complaint! Have a strategy for service recovery that’s all about keeping the complainant as a customer. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to gain fans.

17 Demand ‘killer news’ from your suppliers…

… news that will help inform and ‘colour’ how you converse to customers. You’ll be surprised what’s out there if you ask. Customers will love and remember you for it.

18 Always offer (free) same day delivery.

Go on, make it easy for your customers to buy from you. Same day delivery was standard for small, local businesses not long ago – bring it back now!

19 Use digital and social marketing whenever and wherever is appropriate…

… but be very, very clear, it’s all about building deeper, more emotional relationships not just selling stuff. Best advice comes from teenagers – true!

20 And finally the big one.

The one thing big companies find most difficult is to get customers to feel they ‘belong’. In truth the majority don’t even know who anyone is until they pay for something. This is the complete opposite for the smaller, locally run, businesses – so leverage this until the pips squeak!

Remember - you can never be too local when fighting for customers!