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During the last few weeks I have being in retail businesses around the Cork area as a customer and in my capacity as a Business Coach and to see the amount of people that are doing the same thing they were doing two to three years ago is amazing.They are trading in the exact way and are surprised and depressed that they are getting little or no business of late.Trade is down dramatically and they are sitting there not reacting.They are not running promotions or not looking to attract new customers and they are expecting their business to perform in the same way as before!This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes at the moment.”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Albert Einstein.

We are in the worst retail downturn in our history and people are still attempting to trade in the same way they did when we were in a boom.Plainly this will not work and as Einstein said it is insanity.Speaking to the business owners I am finding more and more people are at their wit’s end due to the fact that there is far less money being spend by customers.This has led to a lot of them putting more and more of their savings into the business in an effort to keep trading waiting for the recession to finish and the promised upturn to start.Those savings are running out and they are wondering what to do next.

I will lay out some ideas today for you some, of these might seem very obvious and some not so.The amount of people who started businesses during the boom is incredible and quite a few of those started with no business experience or management qualification.So bear with me if some of the ideas are simple.

1.Utilities, all services are now a lot lower in price, are your ESB,Telephone and Gas bills still the same or have you phoned or logged on to these companies and looked for their lowest price.Also if you mention that you are pricing around they really do pay attention as they are not willing to lose customers if at all possible.It is called customer churn and they hate it.

An example of this is I have decided to disconnect one of the sports channels on the TV, when I rang to request the disconnect they made three offers to me to keep my custom, the final one was three months for five euro per month down from their €21.99 monthly charge.As you can see this would have being a saving over the three months of €50.97 not bad and just the tip of the iceberg.All your monthly cost should be examined and the best rate obtained.This includes your banking charges and your credit card rate.Your waste disposal all the monthly bills.The two major costs are of course Rent and Wages.

Rents all over the country are down by 50% and more is some cases.Some land lords are taking the view that they are happier to have a tenant in the building instead of having an empty building which they may or may not re-let.One retailer I have being dealing with approached his landlord for a reduction because his business turnover is down over sixty percent.The landlord would not even discuss the situation and the retailer, after trying on a number of occasions to make the landlord see reason, shut his business and moved to a different building two miles away.This was not what he wanted to do but if he had stayed in the existing building he would now be closed due the costs.The landlord now has a second empty building as he already had one empty unit next door to my client which he could not let for over one year.”Insanity.”

Another client approached his landlord and a fifty percent reduction was agreed in just under two months.This shows that there are people out there who have a grasp on current reality and are willing to help you survive.The main item for your ongoing attention is of course your CUSTOMERS.Simple you might say, that’s obvious, well I am here to tell you it is not.We have as customers being taken for granted for years.We as retailers have not given a fig about customers for years.Some of you might take exception to this statement but if you really look into your heart you will admit customers were taken for granted and is some cases treated badly.

This has to be addressed, our customers are our BOSSES you have to treat them well and they have to leave you premises knowing that they have received value from you so they will return, instead of going to your opposition for their next purchase.You have to give your customers what they want not what you think they want!Let me say that again, you have to give your customer what they want not what you THINK they want!!!

How do you do that?You have to ask them, you have to listen and give them what they want.If you do that they will pay for the service.They will pay a reasonable price for a reasonable product and a good price for a good product.If your customer is standing in front of you paying for your service you have to be confident that they are doing so willingly.You could be offering the best value in the world but if the consumer does not want that service or product it is useless.Make sure your offerings are relevant.If you are a baker offer a free eclair for every purchase over €10.00 the cost of the eclair would be pennies and it is a clear no non-sence offer.If you are a hairdresser offer €10.00 off your next blow dry.Give them a nice voucher to bring back with them the next time they return to avail of the offer.

Over the next week I will cover more of this topic and will run thru all areas of Retail and hopefully these posts will help with your business.If you are looking for an Executive Coach to help you develop your business, contact myself or any Executive Coach in your area we would delighted to part take in your journey.