Whilst the impacts of lockdown are ongoing until at least 12th April, Sky News has revealed that unsurprisingly the worst-hit sector throughout the pandemic is the retail sector*. When you take into consideration how badly other industries such as hospitality has been affected, there’s a shocking realisation that this could be yet another long-lasting impact on the look of our high streets when things return to normal.
Ian Harford, a business growth specialist from ActionCOACH, has supported several local retailers, most of them needing vital guidance to maintain the momentum needed to survive lockdowns. Although we see a glimmer of hope as we head towards the April, Ian recognises that there is still a way to go and has some reassuring words to those who find themselves struggling at the last hurdle.
“It’s an extremely difficult time for everyone right now, especially those smaller businesses that depend mainly on local support,” said Ian. “It’s crucial to adopt a positive mindset, despite any challenges you might be facing. By doing this, you can work critically, effectively and sensibly, ensuring that you exit the situation in a good position to move forward stronger in the future. Good morale within your team, as well as that of your customers, is imperative during this time.”
Here are Ian’s top tips for local retailers to maximise their potential:
1. Know your numbers.
Of course, it’s important to understand your profit margins for products and services, but it’s about understanding your numbers on an even deeper level. How much does it cost to gain a lead for a potential customer and how many would you normally convert into a paying one? If online has become a key component of your business, it’s crucial to know what effect this has on your bottom line.
2. Keep in regular contact with your customers.
This is paramount. A year in and you should have continued to engage with your customers throughout lockdown anyway, but now is more important than ever. Share your news, promote any new products, share pictures of your business and interact with your customers. Your social media platforms are the easiest and most effective way of keeping the conversation going and keeping customers in the loop is crucial for retaining them or enticing them back.
3. Promote ‘shop local’.
You can promote the importance of shopping local and supporting the local high street. Incorporate it into your messaging, place banners on your website and shout about it on social media. Now’s the time to create a community of abundance and there’s no better way to highlight just how important that really is. Don’t forget, by shopping local, people become part of the much-needed injection towards the local economy.
4. Start a referral group.
Clubbing together with other local businesses will give you a lot more clout: you can offer each other guidance and support, as well as sharing any ideas for best practice. Having the chance to interact with like-minded business owners promotes a healthy environment, which is imperative for exiting this period stronger than when you went in.
Ian is hosting a free seminar on March 4th, helping business owners take their business from good to great. During this one-and-a-half-hour session, Ian will be covering:
• How to create a clear destination, with tips on how to create goals to get there
• How to properly understand the market
• How to focus on your niche and use that offering to differentiate yourself from competitors
• How to effectively test and measure your business.
If you’re looking for guidance and support, or simply just want to get involved with a networking opportunity, you can sign up for your free place here: https://stokeontrent.actioncoach.co.uk/events/6stepsseminar/.