Word of mouth is most pow­er­ful tool to build a busi­ness

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - With Fear­gal Quinn

Q AI RUN a butcher shop and while I have am­ple park­ing at my shop, lots of peo­ple in the area still don’t know I am here, how can I in­crease aware­ness? WE can talk about the prac­ti­cal mar­ket­ing tools you can use in a mo­ment, but I want to re­flect on the com­pelling rea­son that will get cus­tomers back again and again.

You need to be clear on what your shop stand for. Is it all about value? Is it about hav­ing pre­mium added value ranges? Is it about fo­cus­ing on health and some of the lower-fat cuts?

Is it about great cus­tomer ser­vice and ad­vice that your team of­fer? It could be some or all of the above but it is re­ally im­por­tant that there is some­thing about your busi­ness that stands out from others, other­wise you can be us­ing all the mar­ket­ing tools in the world, and they won’t be able to get you suf­fi­cient busi­ness. Word of mouth is the most pow­er­ful tool that you have and that is the start­ing point.

Dig­i­tal me­dia is ob­vi­ously a cost-ef­fi­cient way of get­ting to con­sumers and you need to be re­ally ac­tive in this area. Whether you are main­tain­ing this dig­i­tal me­dia your­self or have to get ex­ter­nal help, you need to be an ac­tive player in this space.

There is still a role for door-to-door leaflets, per­haps once or twice a year, call­ing out the story of why you are dif­fer­ent and of­fer­ing some price value. Build­ing a text database and us­ing it ap­prox­i­mately five or six times per year, has been proven to be a real win­ner with cus­tomers, es­pe­cially with the meat in­dus­try. There is also scope for some softer pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­ity like link­ing with lo­cal clubs and groups to give some ad­vice on meat and per­haps team up with some lo­cal chef to run some cook­ery classes.

I also no­tice that sev­eral of the meat chains are now fo­cus­ing on the health as­pects of their busi­ness and are link­ing up with gyms to give talks and ad­vice on the cuts that suit bet­ter from a pro­tein and fat per­spec­tive. The meat in­dus­try is chang­ing and if you want to suc­ceed, you have to have a fin­ger on the pulse as to where your con­sumer is head­ing.

Q AI RUN a café which is re­ally hard work six days a week. I also sup­ply a num­ber of other cafes and shops with bak­ery prod­ucts. I am think­ing of clos­ing the cafe in favour of just sup­ply­ing others. Any ad­vice? IT sounds like you are putting in long hours and be­com­ing frus­trated with the over­all op­er­a­tion. The de­ci­sion process you are go­ing through is no dif­fer­ent to many others. Some­times those man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­uct for third-party sup­ply, see the open­ing of a cafe as more at­trac­tive, and in your case it is the op­po­site jour­ney.

The core ques­tion I would have is why are you work­ing so hard your­self ? It is pos­si­ble that the sales are so low that you are try­ing to hold ev­ery­thing to­gether and the busi­ness is only vi­able if you put in ex­tended hours. On the other hand, is it the case that you are sim­ply just try­ing to do ev­ery­thing your­self and not del­e­gat­ing to others?

Be care­ful that the third-party sup­ply doesn’t ap­pear to be more at­trac­tive. It will have its own chal­lenges, not least that as the man­u­fac­turer you are likely to make the least amount of profit in the sup­ply chain. You may also have to put a dis­trib­u­tor in be­tween you and your cafe and re­tail cus­tomers. So there are lots of con­sid­er­a­tions.

Con­tact your Lo­cal En­ter­prise Of­fice and ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting some time with a busi­ness men­tor, who would help you struc­ture the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process and weigh up the pros and cons of each. It may also be pos­si­ble to grow the third-party sup­ply busi­ness while still run­ning a prof­itable café.

Cer­tainly don’t make any rash de­ci­sions. It is hard work to get a cafe up and run­ning and you have suc­ceeded with this part, so clos­ing it now should in­volve a ro­bust de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

Fi­nally, don’t look at the busi­ness as­pects of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process alone – also ex­plore what your per­sonal ob­jec­tive is. If you want to limit the hours you are work­ing your­self, then this has to be a core part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process, so you can choose a busi­ness op­tion that matches your ob­jec­tive.

Send your small busi­ness ques­tions to him­self@fear­galquinn.ie

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