Retail can seem like an easy way to go into business and turn a reliable profit, and many have jumped straight in, imagining it to be smooth sailing.
However, very often the common hurdles in retail will come as a shock, and having been unprepared for the real challenges ahead, the majority of retail businesses fail in their early years.
Here are some precautions that can be taken to guide your business in a successful direction and ensure it has all it needs to survive in the long term:
All businesses destined for success will have been mapped out from the very beginning in clear and precise detail, with plenty of research and professional advice.
You must build around your vision to construct a solid network of brand values and give it all the attention and investment that it requires. Decide who you are, and what image you want to project to the public, and once you‘re happy with your plan, stick to it unless serious changes obviously need making.
Consistency is crucial, and a well-built plan will steer you through your whole journey with as little hassle as possible.
Any strong company‘s greatest asset is their team of staff, and this is of particular importance when trying to set yourself up for longevity.
You are not simply looking for people who are qualified or experienced enough to perform the job, you need people who share your passion and understand what they are a part of, and their significance to their workplace. In return for their commitment and flexibility, make small gestures as you would with customers to know they are valued. Remember birthdays, be mindful of individuals‘ home situations and be as accommodating as you reasonably can.
By building working relationships that rely on trust and mutual respect, you put together a team that can rely on one another.
Loyal customers like to know that they are appreciated, and they will return the favour in regular business.
Consider what sorts of people your client base are, and think of small things that will make you memorable and special to them. This can be anything from handwritten labels to small complimentary chocolates and mints with the company name on them. Get to know your regular customers‘ needs and interests, and keep an eye out for stock that may be suited to a particular persons. Small touches of thought and caring will secure your customers for the long run.
Your customers owe you nothing. You are, ultimately, a business offering a service, and if something you do or do not do is not satisfactory to them, or they do not feel as valued as they should be, they have the choice to seek out a competitor for a better service, if they deem it necessary.
So make your customers know that you appreciate their business, and make them feel appreciated, and they are far more likely to return on a regular basis.
The key to maintaining long-term business is identifying your customer base and latching on to them. This is where your attention to detail and effort will really pay off. Work hard to become an unforgettable figure in your customers‘ lives, and your effort will be rewarded with loyalty.
Stephen Vokins is the Managing Director of Big Brand Beds, a family-run business who have been retailing for over 130 years.