The holiday season generates substantial revenues, as well as browsers, for most small businesses.
That means the owner and all of the employees are very busy. So business owners are not looking to add more to the list of things to do during this time of year.
Yet, small-business owners need to remember this may be the only time during the year that this customer enters the store. It’s great to have that one-time sale or shopper, but wouldn’t you like to make that person a regular patron?
So the holiday season is a great time to build your customer list of the future.
However, building the list need not be painful for the customer, for your employees or for you. Three or four pieces of information are all you need, and that information can be gathered in your normal conversation as the customers check out.
Some business owners gather the information as they offer complimentary gift wrapping, coffee or maybe a cookie. All of these reinforce your brand, even if the customer doesn’t use the gift-wrapping service or want the coffee or cookie.
So what are the questions?
- What were you looking for today?
- What made you decide to stop here?
- How was your experience?
- Can we get your email address?
Dedicate an employee to the task or do it yourself as the owner. A small expenditure of time and money can have a big return.
During this busy season, remember to respect the customers’ time as you go about this project. But don’t think that people won’t take a minute or two to talk. Offer something of value right at the moment, as well as something for their next visit.
One item that works well and helps get the email address is a substantial discount certificate you will send them for an after-the-holiday sale.
Don’t forget your loyal customers, though. Thank them for their patronage, ask them why they stopped in when you know they have other choices, and promise to send them the discount.
Then when the holiday season is over and things get quieter, reconnect with the people whose name you gathered. Thank them for their support, have that promised big event, and start building a relationship or expand the connection you already have.
The holiday season may bring a quick boost in your sales. Why not make it great for developing your group of loyal customers?
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.