Your Net Has a Hole – A Story About How To Optimize Your Business For the Holidays

September 24, 2011

Did you know that for some businesses, the holiday season is where they generate 60 to 75% of their income for the year as well as 50% or more of their new customers?  I was a little shocked at first when I learned this, but when you think about it, it’s very accurate.  The main holiday season in the United States is about to kick off and will run right into the first week of January.  After that, business usually slows down for many industries right through spring time.

In a traditional business model, most people are gearing up for the holiday season and looking at ways to make it better than last year.  But let me challenge you with this.  How many of you are looking past the holiday season and how you can make the hard winter months of January, February, and March more successful?  I’ll bet the answer is very few.

If I could show you a way to make your slowest months of the year better, would you take me up on the advice?  What if that advice could set you up to generate 20 to 50% more sales in those months?  Would you listen then?  What if I told you that some people will double or triple their business in those months next year if they continue to take this advice year after year?  Do I have your attention now?

I want you to imagine something for a minute.  Imagine you are fisherman and you are using a net to catch fish.  Your whole livelihood depends on you catching as much fish as you can, selling some at market, and feeding your family with your catch.  Now imagine that your net has a TON of holes in it.  Some big holes, some little holes, but just a ton of holes in it.  Now remember, this net is how you catch your fish and your whole world is depending you catching fish.  Before you take off to sea for your fishing trip, wouldn’t mend the net and fix all the holes?  I know I would.

This is a problem that most business owners have.  Their net is full of holes.  Some big, some small.  The problem is that most people don’t even know there’s a problem.  I’m here today to tell you, THERE’S A PROBLEM!

Here’s the problem…  You are thinking short-term sale instead of lifetime value.  You see, in the winter months people are thinking how they can close each sale and how if they just do a good job that will bring the customers back.  WRONG!  It will bring some back, but let’s get real for a minute, how many people come back over and over again.  If you are really honest, very few unless you have a system in place to bring them back time and time again.

So without any more delay, here’s how you should be thinking.  Yes, the short-term sale is great, but what can I do at the point of purchase to (1.) Position the client to come back soon and (2.) Get them to tell their friends.  After all, the power of the referral is something you really want.

So let’s take a retail jewelry store for example.  If someone comes in your store and places a custom order for a piece, how do you normally handle this?  You make a sale and then tell them you will call them when it’s in.  If you are good at what you do, you send them a thank you card.  But MOST people don’t even do that.  When the piece is in, you call them, they come check it out, pay the rest of the fee and then they are off and possibly out of your life.

If you are superstar, this is what you WOULD do.  Someone comes into your store and while they are making a purchase, you strike up a conversation about them, their family, and eventually get into other pieces they would like to have some day.  You even help them build a wish list with their 2 or 3 favorite items on it.  You ask about birthdays, anniversaries, kids, etc and if there’s a significant other, you get their details so you can “remind” them of those special occasions.  When you are wrapping up the sale, you give your new client a simple postcard that asks them to rate their experience on yahoo or google under your business profile [note to self, make sure you have a business profile on both] and that their review will entitle them to a free cleaning/or other service if they bring the card back with a date of the review on it.   [Please note that this is just the beginning  J]

Next, you do send a thank you card.  Make sure it is hand written, in your authentic style, says more than “thank you”, and DOES NOT promote your business [i.e. and here’s a gift certificate for xyz].  [By the way, you can pick up boxes of these for pennies at discount stores, close out sales, and end of season clearance – requires you to think ahead…  See the theme here?]

Here’s a cool step.  When their piece comes in, call them and tell them you can show it to them online in an interactive fashion.  Tell them you do this for your customers so they don’t have to fight the traffic and the mall/parking lots, etc and view this in the comfort of their home.  Build up the benefits of this and how cool it is and customers will love it!  At the end of the online presentation ask them if they would do you a favor.  You can do it like this.  “So what do you think about using the internet to see your piece?”  Most will say that it was awesome.  Your next question should then be, “It would mean the world to us if you would share this experience with your friends.  Would you help us out by spreading the word?”  Again most would say, “sure”.    You say great, and then ask them to “like” your Facebook page and put a quick comment about the online presentation.  [Note to self, Facebook isn’t a joke and I need to create a page immediately…]

But it doesn’t stop here.  This is just where the relationship starts.  From here you can start a whole plethora of contacts and touches about their wish list, new pieces in your store, and even interacting with them and their friends via Facebook.  But that’s a story for another day…

To wrap this up, let’s bullet point what we accomplished here for our new client by thinking ahead.

  • We learned about them, their family, what they like, and key dates
  • We thanked them for their business in a super nice way
  • We made an impression on them that we are unique
  • We introduced them to a time-saving way to interact with you through the internet
  • We got them to rate our website via google or yahoo
  • We got them to like our Facebook page
  • We got them to tell their friends about us
  • We set ourselves up to speak to them again and again

If you want more cool ideas for your business, you can email me directly at michael@michaellejeune.com

I also want to hear your success stories from using these ideas.  Please send them so I can share them with the world!

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