How to be around to celebrate anniversaries and make a profit every year

Did you know?

According to the SBA, Office of Advocacy. Only one half of new businesses survive four years. In 2002 there were 34,400 more business closures than starts.

And according to Samir Husni, PH.D. in his article Trends, The Life Cycle of New Magazines:

A. About 25 percent of new magazines never have the chance to put their premier issue on the nation’s stands.

B. One half to new publications will not reach their first anniversary.

C. Today’s life expectancy for a magazine is only 2.4 years.

Having, fortunately, been around the retail world for over 45 years I have seen businesses come and I have seen them go. I’ve noticed the ones who have stayed in business and profited have a few things in common.

1. They are not afraid of Change.

One of the nicest complements I have ever received came from one of my retail competitors the day after he went out of business. I quote, “Janet, I have to hand it to you. You were always willing to change to keep ahead of your competition.”

Some call it catching the wave. I believe a term relating to a surfer, water surfer not computer, it means catching a wave at the very beginning and riding it all the way until it is dissipated. I caught the wave many times. For example in the early 70’s we heard about a communication device called a CB radio. Having never heard of CB radios but knowing people love to talk to each other, I did a bit of investigating. I talked to a few ham radio operators and discovered that CB radios may just be the next fad in communications. At the same time I found cross-country truck drivers were already using CB radios, mostly to alert each other of police speed traps. Armed with this information I ordered our first shipment of CB radios. They sold immediately, and I was established as the area’s CB radio dealer. Every radio I ordered was sold immediately, most before they arrived. I purchased every manufactured line and tied up all the territories I could. I caught the wave early and rode it to many dollars of profit until it fizzled out.

You do not have to take on new lines of merchandise to catch the wave. In the early 70’s when store charge accounts were stressing cash flow I started financing my customer’s purchases for them, through a local consumer finance company. The advantage for the customers was lower payments and of course the advantage to me was cash flow. Soon my competition copied me, and I needed to change to stay ahead of them. So, I offered my customers 90 days same as cash. Well you know what happened them. It was not long before the competition was offering the same program, but I continually kept ahead of them by catching the new waves of financing. Six months same as cash, then twelve months, plus we also offered payments for six and twelve months. I even sold the plan of 24 months with no finance charge and no payment to one of my finance companies.

A word of prudence. When you offer these types of incentives to gain and retain customers, I advise you to create a plan that only rewards the customer with extended terms for purchasing higher value / higher profit items.

Although the way past generations did business - advertising, promoting, and selling worked and many businesses prospered, the way your forefathers did business does not always work in a changing economy and changing needs and problems of your customers.

I have always found that a great source of information, besides our professional associates, are our trade magazines, Southern Jewelry News is one of the best I have ever seen. And I rely strongly on the sales reps that call on us to discover new ways of doing business. I have always gone out of my way to meet with them. After all, they are selling to Jewelry Stores all over the country or have contact with other reps that are. They are a wealth of knowledge. I always ask them: What are other dealers doing to gain and retain their most profitable customers? What sales promotions are they offering? What new items are they selling? What are they doing that I am not?

You must not only be open to change, you must seek out and embrace Change.

2. They Build Relationships with their:

 Customers – People buy from those they trust. The only way I have ever found to get my customers to trust me was to establish and build a relationship with them.

My sales success formula - Familiarity = Relationship = Trust = Sales

In my book “Join The Profit Club” I point out 52 relationship building techniques including how to use your fax cover, thank you notes, surveys, give a ways, signs, follow-up calls, testimonials, name tags, voice mail, and many others to establish and build profitable relationships with your customers.

 Suppliers are great sources of information and I always get the best deals. I am the one my suppliers call first when they want to move merchandise fast with a great low price because I maintain a great relationship with them.

 Competition can be very valuable to you. When you have a great relationship with your competition most of them will tell you things, like how good or bad business really is, what merchandise is selling for them and who not to do business with. At luncheons and dinners of my local trade and service organizations I am always sitting with my competition.

3. They watch their Expenses.

Everything you spend a cent on must contribute to increasing your sales and grow your bottom line.

I constantly look at every expense I have everyday. If it is not contributing to increasing my sales I find a way to eliminate it or make it contribute to sales. Or, I find another way of completing the task for a lower fee. I was in a client’s store preparing to work with them on how to increase their profits when I observed a man from a window cleaning company with a bucket cleaning the windows. Three employees and me who had no customers and were doing nothing to increase sales watched the window cleaner for 15 minutes clean the windows. I asked the owner of the store how much he paid the window cleaner. He replied, “ $80.00 a month.” My suggestion, “During these slow sales periods, I would have my employees clean the windows and put that $80.00 a month towards something that helped increase sales directly.

How many of those $80 expenses can you save each month? They do add up!

4. They Dare to Be Different – They use what you got!

Discover the different sales and marketing qualities you possess to differentiate you from your competition, which will give you the edge on attracting, gaining and retaining customers.

In the mid 80’s I expanded my retail business and opened an appliance store. Being new in the business I could not secure any of the big 3 names in appliances of the time. GE, Maytag or Whirlpool. I desperately needed something different and unique to attract customers. I looked and looked at what I had that my competition did not. At that time I weighted 350 lbs. My uniqueness was, my Unique Selling Proposition (USP), was “I am the biggest appliance dealer in the state of Pennsylvania.” I did not attest or advertise I had the biggest sales or had the biggest store. Okay, it sounds a bit silly, but it worked; people came from all over Pennsylvania to buy from the biggest appliance dealer. When I lost all the extra pounds and became a former shadow of myself I had to find another USP.

Use what you got. Use your USP’s to gain and retain your most profitable customers.

Too discover your differences, determine your USP. Your unique selling proposition.

Your USP is a list of items about you and your business that focuses on what makes you and your business special and different from your competition. It is the reasons you give your customers to buy from you instead of from the competition. The top sales producers know and use their USP’s. If you do not know what is Unique about you and your business, you cannot tell your prospects / customers about them.






The process to determine your USP:

1. List all the things you do for your clients. Every big and little service you provide. (Returning calls on time, professional presentation, etc.) Make as long a list as you can. From this list you will ultimately create your USP.

2. Pick out which of these factors are most important to the buyer of your goods and/or services.

3. Which of these factors are not easily imitated by your competition?

4. Which of these factors can be easily communicated and understood by your prospect?

If you want to stay in business year after year and make a profit every year

 Seek out and embrace change

 Build Relationships with your customers, suppliers and competition

 Watch your expenses

 Dare to be Different – Use your USP’s


ooks and CD’s at http://www.BobJanet.comBob Janet uses 40 plus years of face-to-face selling and marketing experiences as owner / operator of wholesale, retail, manufacturing and service businesses, combined with his unique content loaded, fun-entertaining audience involved keynotes and seminars to help owners, sales professionals and sales support staff increase sales and profits by gaining and retaining their most profitable customers. When everyone else tells you what to do to increase ...

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