Small Business Saturday Preparation
If you haven’t already noticed, this will be an unusual holiday season for small business owners. Due to supply chain disruptions and the continuing presence of COVID-19 many consumers have already started their holiday shopping.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore Small Business Saturday (November 27). Since the pandemic began, many consumers have pledged to up their support of small businesses all year round. Small Business Saturday is a great time to showcase your business within your community.
Retail consultant Bob Phibbs writes in his newsletter that too many retailers and restaurants use Small Business Saturday as a day to offer promotions and discounts, but he says, “that is not the way to give value to customers. Especially with supply chains still broken—you [hold] a 20% off sale—you’re going to sell out of all of your bestsellers—and then have to go back to your vendor (who has raised prices) to refill.”
Phibbs says, “That doesn’t scale. It doesn’t build profits. It doesn’t make sense.” Instead, he advises, small retailers should “find ways to connect with your customers in a real way.”
And he’s right. So how do you do that?
First, get started immediately—it’s already November. Phibbs says it’s best not to try to go it alone—he advises that you partner with other retailers on your block. (Check with your local Chamber or Alignable group to see if they’ve made plans.) Or Phibbs suggests you partner with a charity and “give them a chance to get their name out.”
Put on a happy face
Consumers have been through a lot. This may be the first time in months they’re shopping in stores. So it’s essential you make them feel safe and welcome. This is not the time, warns Phibbs, to complain to customers, especially new ones, about how you’ve had a tough year or that you can’t find employees to work for you. Instead, he says, “your messaging should be:
- It’s great to be back.
- We’re glad you’re here.
- We’re looking forward to a big holiday season.
- If you see it, you should buy it.”
Your job as a retailer, says Phibbs, is to surprise and delight your customers. Remember, he says, “What customers want is service, what they want is a happy smile, and they want to be taken away from the apocalypse stories in the news.”
And when you create that welcoming feeling, the feeling that your customers matter to you, Phibbs says, they will spend more in your store.
So, how can you make customers feel welcome in your store? Phibbs has some suggestions:
- Post photos or videos on Instagram and Facebook of you and your employees that show off your stores (or restaurants) and make them look like somewhere potential customers would want to go.
- Teach your employees how to engage with strangers. Begin with changing their greeting from, ‘Hi, how are you?’ to a simple, ‘Good morning.’
Cross-Promotion is key
Phibbs says it’s crucial that neighboring small business owners support one another. Store owners, he says, should promote local restaurants. And conversely, restaurant owners should promote local shops. Phibbs says they since most people in the community want to support small businesses, they will be thrilled that you’re showing community spirit.
And he adds, “The important thing to remember is nobody loses in this—everyone wins!”
Of course, you should maintain this attitude beyond Small Business Saturday. If you need assistance, your SCORE mentor can help. If you don’t yet have a mentor, you can find one today.