Sandra Vale

Small Business Tips by Sandra Vale

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How To Be Better Than Big

Most importantly she brings up an often un-talked-about topic: Why should we go out of our way as consumers to support small businesses if small businesses are not offering us something better?

In the last few weeks, we’ve been hearing loud campaigns about “Small Business Saturday,” “Shop Local,” and “Support Small Businesses.” These campaigns can have significant impact on small businesses in need of support. Drawing consumers away from faceless big box stores and into local businesses is great. But, what Sandra Vale asks us to think about is if local businesses are providing a compelling enough reason to support them.

Sandra Vale says, “Small businesses abdicated power to big business not so much because the big business muscled their way into the domain of small (but) more often because small business had failed to provide a compelling reason for more customers to jump through hoops.”

As a small business owner, take a look to see if you are providing something captivating enough to draw consumers away from the big box giants.

 

There are two main areas that will differentiate the small business.

Customer Service – This is one of big box stores’ biggest shortcomings and one of the areas of untapped opportunity for small businesses. The big stores often have few employees that are accessible to the consumer. We’ve all been frustrated by not being able to find assistance when we’re shopping, or when we do, the person isn’t that helpful. The information relayed by employees can be uninformed and often incomplete.

Small businesses have the opportunity to. You need to take every opportunity to connect with your customers and provide them with an experience they are not going to find at a big box store. This will encourage them to repeatedly shop with you, and they’ll be more likely to tell others about your business.

 

Remember that great customer service can happen whenever and wherever you connect with your customers: online, on the phone, by email, social media, in person, after the purchase. Every interaction you have with your customer needs to be memorable.

Sandra Vale points out the limitations of some small businesses: “Mom & pop shops (virtual or analog) are often run in entirely unsustainable ways. They rarely translate sweat equity into financial equity. They often rely on cheap or free labor instead of trained employees.”

 

Do you have employees? Are they providing the standard of customer service that makes your business stand out? Are they trained and knowledgable in all aspects of your business? Do they connect with your customers?

Having a well-trained team is one of the biggest assets your business can have. If your employees are not conveying the values on which you base your business, then you shouldn’t be wasting your hard-earned money paying them. It is just not worth it.

 

Offerings – Big stores carry everything. You can hit up a Walmart Super Centre to get your groceries, holiday gifts and new eye glasses, then treat yourself to lunch at the in-store McDonald’s. As a small business you are probably specialized in one area. Whatever you specialize in, are you the best at it? If you own a local sandwich shop are your sandwiches the best in town?

We often see complacency in small business owners, an “I can’t compete so why bother” attitude, or a sense that what they are providing is “good enough.” But, is it really? You can’t feel apathetic, yet at the same time hope for more profit. It just doesn’t work like that. If you want consumers to support you as a local or small business, then you need to earn their shopping dollars by showing them you can meet their needs, whatever they may be.

 

Sandra Vale goes on to say: “When mom & pops provide a package that appeals to us more than the big guys, we pay more, shop shorter hours, and jump through more hoops. But so often, they do not.”

Is what you are providing to your customers enough to entice them to “jump through more hoops” to shop with you?

 

As Sandra Vale says, “small is powerful,” and this is true. Every small business has the opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of shoppers. You have the chance to create a culture where loyal consumers value your business by supporting you, not just on Saturday, but every day.

In the comments below let us know other ways that you can wow your customers, or how other small businesses have impressed you.

As always, if you have enjoyed this post, please pass it on to your friends.
Thanks

 

 

Sandra Vale

 

Please Don’t Neglect This Important Part of Your Business

If you’re a small business owner whose business is on the verge of growing, now is the time to get your operational systems ready to support this growth.

We know that creating an Operations Manual or a Staff Management Guide may seem boring and even unnecessary to most entrepreneurs. We talk to many business owners who don’t see the value in having these systems in place. Others see the value, but don’t know exactly what they are or how to put them together.

 

We believe these systems are the foundation of every successful business. They provide a solid base to build your business on.

There comes a time in most businesses when not having these systems in place will impede growth. The owner gets busier, decides she needs help, hires someone, then doesn’t have time to train them well. That’s when things start to spiral out of control.

 

This is where a boring Operations Manual would save the day and, quite possibly, your sanity.

Every business needs standard operating guidelines to maintain consistency, run smoothly and facilitate growth. This is what an Operations Manual provides for your business.

 

An Operations Manual maps out exactly how your business runs. It replicates your knowledge of your business. It includes your Mission Statement, your companies Policies and Procedures, Customer Service Protocol, everything someone one would need to know to run or work in your business.

It’s a tool that allows you to train staff effectively and efficiently to perform all tasks within your operation.

Having an Operations Manual will empower your staff to confidently manage your business if you’re not there. And it allows you to confidently be away from your business, knowing it will be managed as if you were there.

 

The key to an effective Operations Manual is to have every task described in detail. This will ensure that each person learning to do that task will learn to do it the same way. This creates consistency within your business.

An Operations Manual is an invaluable tool that will add immeasurable value to your business. Not only will it alleviate your stress as your business grows, but will give your business a solid foundation to grow on. That’s not boring!

In the comments below let us know, do you have an operations manual in place? If not what is the biggest thing holding you back from creating one?