21 Small Business Profit Boosters For Troubled Times (#1)

21 Ways to Get More Sales, Increase Profits and Reduce Expenses… All at the Same Time

I’ve had it with all the loser talk about the economy.

I know it’s bad.

I know people are losing money.

I have lost money, too – my retirement account is worth about two thirds what it was worth six months ago.

So I get it.

But it’s time for all of us to stop talking about it, and instead start doing something about it.

First Of All, I’m Not Suze Orman

I’m not going to pretend to advise you on what to do with your investments, or that kind of thing. There are plenty of experts who can help you with that. In fact, I recommend you listen to these audios by Tony Robbins for some guidance on your finances – and your attitude.

What I have to offer is of a different nature. Here’s my contribution…

I’m writing a series of blog posts (starting with this one) that are focused on one thing, and one thing only: helping small business owners thrive-not just survive, but thrive-in today’s economic environment.

I believe that is realistic and attainable for almost all small businesses – if they’re willing to do what it takes.

Are you?

We’ll see.

The World Series Of Small Business Profit Tactics

This will be a month-long series (give or take). Each day my goal is to post one actionable step you can take that will either get you more sales, increase the amount of profit you make on each sale, or multiply the number of sales you get from each customer… and ideally, it will do all three at the same time.

Tactic #1: Discover Your Own Acres of Diamonds

You have probably heard the classic motivational tale called Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell.

It’s the story of a poor farmer who sold his land in order to go off in search of treasure. He never found that treasure… but the new owner of the property discovered a rich diamond mine lay just beneath it. The poor farmer gave up all he had… including his “acres of diamonds”.

Dig In Your Own Back Yard

This is a perfect illustration of how most business owners run their small businesses (whether online or off-line).

The are constantly in search of some new idea, technology, or innovation… and they fail to harvest the fortune already at their feet.

If you have any kind of business at all – if you’ve been selling anything for any length of time –  you already own acres of diamonds.

Your diamonds are your past customers.

They spent money with you before. The hardest sale to make (and the most expensive sale to make) is the first one. And yet… many business owners never try to work for the second sale at all.

They seem to operate under a motto that reads: “Find ‘em, fool ‘em, and forget ‘em.”

What about you?

Have you given your past customers opportunity to do business with you again? Have you asked them for more business? Have you done it recently… persuasively… persistently?

If you’re like most business owners, the answer is “no”.

How to Harvest Your Diamonds

So how do you harvest your acres of diamonds? How do you go about reactivating old customers-in real, practical terms?

The simplest way is: contact them.

Do you have their phone number? Then call them.

Calling them is the best way-it’s the most personal (barring showing up at the front door, which might not be such a bad idea, depending on what business you’re in).

I can already hear someone saying, “But Ray, people will be offended if I show up out of nowhere… or call them on the phone… or e-mail them… and ask them to buy something.”

Well of course they will.

Especially if they haven’t heard from you for a long time. But what if you took a different approach?

What if you called (or sent a letter, or an e-mail) and said something like this: “Hi this is Bob the Remodeling Guy…  and I was just checking in to see how that new bathroom is working for you? I know it’s been a year since we installed your new fixtures, and we always like to follow up and make sure our work is living up to your expectations.”

Will you get some complaints? Probably.

You’ll find a few people who’ve been meaning to complain about that leaky faucet but never thought you’d even return a phone call. They’ll be glad to finally have your ear. But if you handle even these situations right, it will almost always result in new business.

Why is that? Because nobody calls to follow up these days. Nobody.

And you might be surprised to discover that most of your calls will not result in new complaints. Most of them will result in people being surprised that you called the begin with.
Most calls will be a pleasant shock for the customer and result in some kind of conversation about what other work, products, or services they might need.

If you can’t call your customers, send them an e-mail; if you don’t have your e-mail address, send them a postcard.

Get this: the technology you use to reopen the dialogue doesn’t matter. What matters is that you start the conversation.

And don’t start it by asking for more money; start by finding out how they felt about dealing with you in the past, how well you helped them solve their previous problem, and — if they have any thing less than a stellar report for you — how you can make things right.

If you do these things, you will get new business as a natural course of events. And you won’t have to bring it up–they will.

“But What If They Don’t?”

What if you have a pleasant conversation with your past customer, all is well, and they don’t mention buying something new? No problem. It doesn’t mean you can’t sell them something. Just be nice about it, for cryin’ out loud. Don’t be rude. Make sure they have been heard before you try to make them hear you.

And once you know they have been heard, and feel great about you because you contacted them, and because you (gasp!) listened to what they had to say… make them aware of whatever your current promotion happens to be. Just do it  without being pushy.

It can be as simple as saying, “By the way, we have a special discount available for previous customers who…”.

If they’re interested in your new offer, they’ll let you know.

If they’re not, they’ll let you know that too.

Either way, the worst thing that can happen is you will have built more goodwill for your company, its products, and services. And if you contact enough of your previous customers, taking the right approach, you will generate new business.

This tactic works because hardly anybody does it.

In fact, I predict hardly anybody reading it on this blog will do it. But don’t let that discourage you-in fact, it should excite you.

It should be exciting to know that so few of your competitors will take this simple step to increase their sales and profits.

That just leaves more for you. Now go do it!

Tomorrow’s tactic: Thanksgiving Equals Thanks-getting.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.