Opening the doors to your brand-new retail store is an exciting time. As your first customers start to come in and browse, you’re busy thinking of all the great things you’re going to do now that you’re officially open to the public. We don’t want to burst your bubble, but we do want to be sure you’re taking care of the details so your business can thrive. Here are five common mistakes we see retail entrepreneurs make in their early months and how you can steer clear of them.
Hiring the Wrong Team
Your first employees are going to be major factors in whether or not your business succeeds, so it’s important to take your time and hire the right people. You might not have a ton of money to spare, but be willing to up salaries a bit so you can attract the kind of employees that will work hard, roll with the punches (and there will be plenty of punches in the early days), and fit the company culture you’re trying to build. You might not have a lot of experience with hiring people right out of the gate, but your gut will take you far. You’ve put your heart and soul into launching this business, and you’ll know whether your potential hires have that passion inside them too – it’s hard to hide!
Forgetting About Marketing
You know what they say – you have to spend money to make money! Many retail entrepreneurs spend hours and hours perfecting their products, down to the tiniest detail. They lovingly display their items on the shelf, paying attention to what goes next to what. They then throw open their doors and are surprised and disappointed when no one shows up! You have to tell people you’re out there. Marketing campaigns don’t have to cost tons and tons of money, but you should set aside a chunk of your startup cash to publicize your new venture. Organize a grand opening party and advertise it on social media. Take beautiful photos of your wares and add them to your Yelp and Facebook pages. Design a simple but visually appealing website that leads customers right to your door. There’s a lot you can do for free or cheap in the digital age!
Customer Service Nightmares
You’ll quickly find out that the customer is not always right. Despite your best intentions, you’ll run up against rude and demanding customers who will make you want to scream, cry, or both. Don’t do any of those, at least not in public. An angry customer is a learning experience for your shop. What can you do to improve their experience and make things right? In the future, what will you change to ensure this never happens again? Train your employees to be unwaveringly pleasant and polite, whether you are peeking over their shoulders or not. A cheerful and confidant salesperson can go a long way toward turning a negative encounter into a positive one for a disgruntled customer.
Not Putting the Needs of the Customer First
Picture this: A customer walks into your sporting goods store and is looking at the bicycles. They ride recreationally on the weekends every so often, but aren’t an enthusiast by any means. They know they need a new ride, but it’s been such a long time since their last purchase that they don’t even know where to start. Your impulse may be to guide them to the most expensive and highest quality item, a beautiful competition-level road bike with a price tag that makes their eyes bug out. Sure, this is a bike that would make Lance Armstrong weak in the knees, but it’s not appropriate for the casual cyclist. You’ll lose that sale as the customer balks at the high price and fancy bells and whistles and hightails it out of your store. It’s always better to listen to the customer, understand exactly what they’re looking for, and make recommendations based on that conversation. Doing so will build up your reputation and the customer’s trust in you, making them more likely to return for a helmet, knee pads, and much more.
Forgetting That Vendors Are Part of Your Culture, Too
New entrepreneurs have a thousand things on their minds, and their credit card processor is never all that close to the top of the list. While it may seem like all merchant services providers are created equal, they just aren’t. Especially in your early months and years, you’re going to want a true payments partner that you can rely on. Look for a processor who provides support and education for new business owners and who has a reputation for great customer service should anything ever go wrong. Vet your payment processor carefully using our Processor Polygraph, and make sure you’re getting everything you deserve out of the relationship.
We’d love for you to try 360 Payments. We pride ourselves on offering low rates with no junk fees as well as the customer service your business needs to grow and succeed. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website. We’ll walk you through the process and show you what sets us apart.
PS – Use technology to your advantage! Here’s how.
PPS – Considering starting a business blog? Read our tips here.