These days everyone in business has to be very aggressive when it comes to getting more customers. Simply put, more customers generally translates into higher profits, one of the basic goals of every business. Some businesses spend huge amounts of money advertising or using all sorts of gimmicks when in reality there are usually cheaper and sometimes more effective alternatives. Here are some of the most basic and least expensive ideas:
1. Give people better customer service than the competition. Many businesses, too intent on making money, have virtually abandoned any pretenses that they even care about customer satisfaction. This has left a huge customer satisfaction hole in a bad economy which you can take advantage of. Yes, people want lower prices but they also want to be treated with respect and dignity and they may choose you over the competition if they are repeatedly treated badly by them but appreciatively by you.
2. Offer a cleaner facility. Because many businesses are now operating with skeleton crews, they are skimping on many things, including the cleanliness of their facility. Having a dirty bathroom (especially if you are running a restaurant or a health-related facility), for example, can turn many of your customers off. MacDonald’s restaurants, one of the most successful businesses ever, prides itself on its clean bathrooms and many people see this commitment as an indication of their high standards–this translates into on-going business success anyone can tap into.
3. Renovate or at the very least keep up with repairs. Having a place of business that is pleasing to the eyes matters to your customers. This does not mean that you have to go overboard, spending too much money over-renovating. But having a well-lit, safe, easy-to-maneuver-through, friendly to the disabled and the elderly, attractive facility encourages people to come back and keep giving you business.
4. Offer lower prices–strive to give the lowest prices possible. People want to save money, to get the most for their dollars. During a robust economy, you might get away with charging exorbitant prices, but during a recession the most economical choices are often the ones people go for.
5. Run specials on a regular basis. Some businesses have them but they get too stingy about what they offer. The idea is to make a sacrifice on your part, to offer a product or service at a ridiculously low price or even to give something away with every purchase. Remember, the idea behind specials is to bring people in and you won’t accomplish this unless you make an offer people will find hard to turn down.
6. Provide an informative and well-put-together website. Many people these days will first look at a website before they will visit a business. In fact, some businesses achieve sales through their websites equal to or in excess of what they enjoy at their actual sales office. People appreciate the convenience of not having to drive if they can conduct business online or at the very least find out where a service or product is available and for how much.
7. Participate in and sponsor fundraising events and activities with and for local nonprofits. Participating in these events is a wonderful way to get your name better known in the community. People also tend to have a good opinion of businesses that go out of their way to help address worthy causes, especially if the “cause” has affected someone they know personally.
8. Be always upgrading or possibly expanding the quality of your product line and services. People want to know that they are getting the most for what they spend. You should also consider adding variety to what you offer. If you own a buffet restaurant, for example, constantly add new dishes to the fare so that people don’t get tired of the same things day after day. Look for new vendors to see if maybe they offer better items than the ones you now offer your customers.
9. Offer more convenient service hours. Consider being open for business in the evening, on weekends, and during some holidays, especially if your competition does not offer the same privilege. Convenience is in fact one of the qualities that helps some businesses thrive in a world that more and more caters to people on the run and looking for fast, efficient and simplified service.
10. Run contests and sponsor competitions. They can either be skills-related (which are sometimes better since they do not go under “gambling” and are therefore not subject to the finicky laws governing those activities) or can depend solely on luck. The bottom line is your giving people an opportunity to win something they be eager to possess. To increase the value of the item (the higher the more interest the contest will motivate), consider collaborating with other businesses, thus allowing all of you to pool your resources together.