If a rising tide floats all boats, what about a falling tide?

When general economic conditions get worse, which businesses get stranded? More importantly, how does a small business owner survive when large businesses are struggling?

I think there is a lesson to be learned from observing the struggling Ukrops store in Roanoke, VA. Ukrops store is a beautiful high end grocery store with a great deli section. The deli business is doing fine, but the main part of the store is not doing well enough to continue. The product quality is top rate, but the prices are not attracting enough shoppers to keep the store in business, according to recent news reports. The store is off by itself and parking is not particularly convenient, so shopping is a chore, not something to anticipate with excitement.

In any business transaction, there are reasons to buy and other reasons to delay or avoid purchasing altogether. We could get all technical, but there is an underlying truth which applies in good times or bad:

A successful business somehow manages to create a positive customer experience which makes the buying decision easy.

In good times, we may spend money on items that are "nice to have" but contribute little to our ability to make a living or to stay healthy.

When money is tight, we tend to buy only the barest necessities and we gravitate to the businesses that give us personal service, work with us on prices, and make us feel appreciated.

None of this requires technical or marketing skills. It does require people skills and that is where small businesses can excel. The successful small business owner learns to establish a close relationship with customers which will pay dividends in good times or bad.

Perhaps the most useful thing to do today is to look at improving relationships with your customers.

What would it take?

This entry was posted in Basic Business Concepts, Dealing with hard times and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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