For years now Black Friday has been the best sales day of the year for a lot of small businesses. This Thanksgiving however, what I noticed were not the great deals or the savvy shoppers. I noticed the grumpiness and discontent of the people that had to work, the increased security in the malls and the general cynicism of the average shopper. So what can small business learn from the corporate Black Friday experience? Here’s what I picked up…
Change our attitude and we change our sales
Sales has become such a metric heavy industry that many times we forget why we started a business. These people that we are selling to, they are not just trash receptacles. They aren’t a dollar figure, they are people and that purchase is supposed to make their life easier or give them something that they want. Luxury retailers haven’t forgotten this and maybe it’s because they have never had to stop looking for their customers. If we want our customers to experience our products, we care about them and what our product means to them.
The value of our product extends to the way we treat our staff
One of the best ways to view the culture of a company is to watch how they treat their employees. Happy employees generally indicate a company that at the very least cares whether their employees are happy while at work. Unhappy employees indicate a variety of things, but the most common complaint is a company that is only concerned with sales. Sales are important, you didn’t start your business to be a charity but successful companies have understood that happy employees bring higher sales.
Increasing sales should not require physical security
Of all of the things I encounter during Black Friday the presence of armed security in the stores and in the parking lots is the most troubling thing for me. Are you willing to sell your company’s proverbial soul to increase sales? Creating desire and limiting availability are staples in business, but at what cost? Are you willing to risk the safety of your staff to log in more sales? Are you willing to place your other customers in harm’s way to make one more sale? This atmosphere is almost created by large retailers, but as a small business you have the ability to create a different atmosphere in your business. If you don’t want a circus, don’t create one.
The holidays are a great time to increase revenue, but don’t do it at the expense of what you have built. There’s a reason customers buy from small businesses and it centers on the feeling of being cared for. Big companies don’t and can’t get that. But small business can and does. While we fight to stay in the game, let’s not lose our one inherent edge.