December 21, 2018
The worst, and most common, mistake your business can make
I became fascinated with Marketing, and Advertising, back in my college days when I was studying Graphic Design. And in addition to "book learnin'" I was doing freelance work, and observing businesses. And oddly enough, the most common mistake that I saw businesses make was to simply not let people know that they're open for business. And it's still very common.
I suppose it's an easy mistake for a business to make. They're concentrating on making cookies, or whatever their business is, and letting potential customers know that the cookies are available to buy just seems to slip the minds of business owners. And this isn't a criticism of business owners who are focusing on their product, or services! And some businesses are so good that customers would find them, and buy their stuff no matter what. But most businesses are better off letting customers know that they're open for business.
No, I don't go around and tell businesses that they're not letting people know that they're open for business. Not only would that be rude, but it would take me more time than I have. It's so common that I have to let it go. It makes me feel better to talk about it here, so I will.
My guess is that small businesses many times are just following what they see big businesses do. Huge "big box" stores, with their own parking lots, don't have to post a big "Open" sign. Just seeing cars in the parking lot is enough. If you're a smaller business, with a shared parking lot, there may not be any clue that your business is open. You could get an "Open" sign, but you have to be careful with that. It's easy to forget to turn on the light, or to realize that it's been burned out for weeks, and a turned-off "Open" sign essentially tells people who might be walking up to your door that you're closed, and people just walk on by. Funny how that works!
I've also seen the mistake of not updating your hours on the web. Nowadays a lot of people won't even get in their car if they think you're closed, so forgetting to switch from your summer hours to regular hours will simply mean less customers - they won't even get near enough to your business to see if you're open.
The solution, of course, is to make this a priority, even before you start making the cookies. Get a BIG open sign, and be sure it's on. Post your hours on a sign big enough that someone can read it without having to walk up to it, like from their car. And be sure to keep your hours correct on the web, and keep them simple. If your hours look like the instructions on how to land a 747, simplify them~ Of course if you're a crabby person who hates to be criticized, no one will say anything. So encourage people to give you feedback, reward your employees if they see that the "Open" sign is burned out (a free week of cookies, perhaps?).
So there you go. Having a successful business is hard, just like anything else in life. And it's especially hard when you make stupid mistakes. No, I won't say anything to you, I'll just feel sad when your business fails.
Posted by Brad Hall