Businesses need to get and keep customers!
The one thing that any business needs to concentrate on, above all other activities, is the getting and keeping of customers. So it is amazing how many businesses do not put this at the forefront of their activities.
Be available when customers need you.
One of the key aspects for many businesses, especially in the retail sector, is the opening times of the business. Up until very recently retail business was hampered by trading law and the restriction on opening times. Once the trading times and what can be sold during those times, were liberalised, the growth in Sunday trading escalated and now it would be hard to visualise not being able to use late night or Sunday shopping; it is clearly what the customer wants. Even before that, the point was proven by the arrival of the Asian corner stores. Before their arrival local shops closed before people got back from their work and also there was often one day in the week when they closed for a half a day. The Asian “convenient” stores soon made big gains over the traditional corner shops because of their “convenience”. I have even experienced the problem of businesses not being available for the customer more recently. I like to use local traders as far as possible. There have been a number of such stores that I have used which became, for what ever reason, unreliable in their opening times so that I could never tell if they would be open or closed when I shopped. I therefore stopped using them, as did other customers, and they eventually went out of business.
The whole question of businesses being available for their customers re-surfaced just last month. I was lucky enough to go on a cruise around the Norwegian fiords. They were very spectacular and I really enjoyed the holiday. However, it was noticeable that there were a number of businesses that did not take advantage that there was a cruise ship in town, with numbers of passengers out numbering the local population by tens of times. Now I know that it was early season and that it may not be worth opening for the normal trickle of tourist but, not to take advantage of the bonanza of a cruise ship is, in my mind, a cardinal sin. There was one particular cafe/restaurant that was in the prime position in the town. It was situated right at the end of fiord with spectacular views along it. But, it was not open. Many of the ships passengers would have taken coffee and lunch there but were unable to do so. Consequently, the business lost a substantial amount of business.
So, there is the nub! You have to be available when your customers want to do business, not when it is convenient to you. This time will, of course, vary from sector to sector and so you have to find out when your customers need you.
So, are you open for business when your customers need you?