By Heidi Richards Mooney
Like many of you reading this I too have been affected by the current economic climate. Retail is definitely not what it used to be. People are counting pennies, looking for bargains and foregoing a lot of the “feel good” products and services they used to purchase on a regular basis.
Take flowers as an example. Up until May of 2008, I had several customers on “standing order” who had fresh flowers delivered to their homes and offices weekly or bi-weekly. Shortly after Mother’s day one of my best customers called and asked if I could design a large silk arrangement for her entryway as she was “cutting back” on fresh flowers from weekly to only when she entertained. BTW, she was known for having dinner parties every week or so in her home and these days she hosts only about a party every six weeks or so. That should have been my sign. In June other regular customers started calling to “downsize their orders.” About the same time corporate clients started calling cancelling their weekly lobby arrangements. It was like they all got the same memo at the same time.
In September I realized this was going to be the “norm” from now on and that my once best customers were falling by the wayside. While this was going on, I was doing even more networking to try and replace the lost business. But no one was buying. Everyone was, however selling.
So In the middle of November I made plans to change my business model and move from a 3,000 square foot retail location to an 800 sq. ft warehouse – less space, less staff, less overhead. And it was perfect timing for me. In addition to moving I looked at every aspect of my business to see where I could “save money.” Here are some of the changes I made:
1. Got quotes from 3 insurance companies to get the best coverage for the money.
2. Changes phone service providers and saved 40% over the service I previously used. Tied into my cell phone and got a great rate.
3. Made the warehouse more energy efficient.
4. Built a compost to take care of the flower stems and cuttings that had previously been thrown in the trash.
5. Updated my website. Added more features, products and started heavily marketing to my database of 6,000 floral customers.
6. Started blogging more and participating in several social networking venues to drive traffic to my website.
7. Started calling on hotels and event venues to introduce myself and offer my services.
8. Sent a postcard to database announcing the move and offering a discount toward their next purchase.
9. Instead of doing a monthly review, I now review my books on a weekly basis so I know exactly where I stand financially.
10. Cancelled orders for products I would likely not sell in a warehouse location. And got smarter and leaner about buying practices. Waste not, want not is a great business motto.
11. Reviewed credit card processing and got estimates from other companies. My bank referred a company that their customers use and I am saving roughly $200 a month in processing and service fees.
12. Working with wholesalers and vendors to offer “specials” based upon flowers that are more plentiful and less expensive.
13. Network, network, network. I used to be much more active in the community and over the past 3 or 4 years have gotten lazy only attending 2 or 3 networking, and business events a month. Now I am networking 2 or 3 times a week (sometimes more) and have picked up an average of two new customers a week because of this.
The other thing I recommend that worked for me, talk to your staff about your business. Let them know what’s going on. You may have to let some go but it will be easier if they know that you care about their welfare too. My staff was wonderful. They said they would do whatever it takes to make it work. Some of them started networking for me, and referring people to our shop. Others decided to leave for better opportunities or to start their own businesses. And two people decided to “retire” and stay home. But the good news is they all said that if I ever needed them all I have to do is call … and they’d be there!
While I am sad about the fact that we are not together daily, I am happy that we parted on good terms. I am looking forward to the next holiday so we can have a “reunion.”
What are you doing to manage in this New Economy?
©Heidi Richards Mooney – is a Professional Speaker, Business Coach and the Author of 7 books including: “Quirky Marketing – 365 Ways to Grow Your Business Using Zany and Non-traditional Holidays.” She is also the Publisher of WE Magazine for Women. In February 2008 Heidi Was named a Woman on Twitter to follow by Only2Clicks.com. Stop by http://www.speakingwithspirit.com to get a FREE copy of Quirky Marketing Chapter One today!