Keeping Up With The Competitors: With Small Business, It’s Personal

Young female entrepreneur working in a home office at her desk

As a small business owner, it’s all too easy to look at your larger counterparts and wonder how you can possibly compete. Whatever industry you are in, don’t be discouraged by the deep pockets of the big box retailer, and don’t compare. Being a small business owner gives you a lot of advantage in the marketplace, extending service that reaches your community and wins loyal customers.

Go Ahead, Get Personal

Make sure you and your employees welcome each customer with a smile and a kind word. When someone new comes through your doors,  learn their name and a little about them. Even with countless employees on the sales floor, that personal touch is something big box stores can’t duplicate.

Jessica Lewis, co-founder of creative packaging solutions company Kraft & Jute, had an opportunity to diffuse a potentially bad client situation. She did so by personally calling him back to listen to his side of the story.

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“I decided to be really nice, listen, and ask him what we could do for him, anything to make it right.” Lewis conveyed. “He then apologized for being rude and told me that he was devastated because he just found out his wife was dying of cancer.”

You never know what people are going through, and perhaps taking a step beyond your next sale, by offering a kind word or a listening ear is just the right medicine to establish a new relationship or build onto an existing one.

We all want to be known by others, and it stands true in business, too.  When you say your customers’ names and ask them about their families, etc., you make them feel special. From there, they might be more likely to spend their money with you.  Capitalize on the human touch you can add to your retail experience, not because of the revenue, but because you care.

Know More Than The Average Big Box Employee

Personalization also refers to your products and services.  No business can stock every single model of a certain product, not even large retailers. As a small business, you might have the freedom to make a special order if needed.  Or maybe you can offer a unique item or service that meets unique customer needs.


Related Article: 10 Facts You Should Know About the Small Business Report

More importantly, as a business owner, it’s up to you to become an expert on the items you sell. Know the difference between models and be a helpful resource for your customers.  How many times have you walked into a store and found that you know more than the employee does? So be that difference.  People will pay for that knowledge you can offer.

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Think Outside The Big Box

Taxi service Uber raced into our lives in 2009, getting people where they need to go in a new way. Keeping to what the company expresses on its website, “evolving how the world moves,” the company is filling new needs. Last year it launched two new services:

  • UberRUSH: It’s a local same-day courier and delivery service that costs between $15 and $30, depending on how far it has to travel. This service is available 24/7, and you can track your package’s progress via Uber’s app.
  • UberFRESH: Uber is now delivering for restaurants. If you’re in the coverage area, a small fork and knife icon will show up to the far right in your regular Uber app. This service helps customers skip the long lines and parking hassles at their favorite restaurant.

Be like Uber, and really know your potential customers, and do what you can to meet their needs.

Be The Better Employer

You may not be able to offer the highest salaries or the most vacation time. As a small business, you might be able to offer comparable money, but with more schedule flexibility. Be generous with personal days or offer the option to work at home if possible. Today’s technology makes remote offices easier than ever to set up and function.

Or if you really want to go all out, take Bart Lorang’s lead. At his business, FullContact, he gives employees $7,500 as a “Paid, Paid Vacation.” Yes, that’s on top of their salaries.

“Flexible work options can reduce employee absences and turnover, both of which typically cost employers a hefty sum in lost productivity and extensive replacement costs,”  Sarah Sutton Fell, CEO, FlexJobs, wrote in a Huffington Post article “In fact, The Bureau of National Affairs estimates that over $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover.”

More so, happier employees will translate into better service and happier customers.

Use Automated Inventory Management

 Fifty six percent of small business owners use manual processes to track inventory, according to the 2015 State of Small Business Report. The use of pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets slows down operations, leaving little time to personalize your line of business. Streamlining inventory control can help you keep up with the big guns:

  1. Track Customer behavior: Your program will track customer demand and shopping habits. Like Uber, you’ll be able to evolve with your customers, knowing what they want, when they want it.
  2. Speed Up Your Inventory Management: Simply put, you won’t spend hours writing down or manually keying in SKU numbers. Barcode scanners make your process quick and easy.
  3. Improve Customer Service: Your employees can always have access to product data when it’s needed.
  4. Keep Employees Happy: Inventory management implementation is done on-the-job. There will be little to now downtime, with knowledgeable trainers to help. In addition, when your warehouse is more organized, it will make your employees’ jobs less frustrating.

You can keep up with your larger competitors. It’s up to you to find ways to stand out that will fit your customers and bring noticeable success to your small business.

Stay ahead of the compitition with Wasp Barcode Technologies Inventory Management.  For a free demonstration, click here

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Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter