Small Business Management: Improving Your Profitability Through Retail Sales

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Many service based business owners understand the struggle of maintaining a positive cash flow.  The business lives or dies by the number of customers or members who come through the door on a daily basis. 

Retail products are a natural extension of the services your business can offer. As a small business owner, you can increase your revenue and your profitability by selling retail products. By adding just a few retail products, you can see your annual revenue increase by thousands of dollars. You can determine the size of that growth based on how sophisticated and inventive you are when designing your retail sales strategy.

It stands to reason that the type of retail products you offer should feel like a natural extension of the services you provide. Select products that facilitate or accentuate the experience.  Businesses can also sell products that leverage customer’s pride and brand loyalty. 

Here’s a short list of key retail product categories that perform well at the retail level in service-based businesses: 

  • Personal Care Products
  • Apparel
  • Gifts
  • Accessories
  • Food
  • Beverages

Simply having retail items for sale on the shelf in your business isn’t gong to translate into revenue.  You will need to put strategies in place to make sure that the retail items are sold. 

Many service businesses are wary of asking their service providers to deliver a “hard sell” to customers for fear of appearing disingenuous.  However, with the right sales strategy and staff training, you can create a seamless experience for your customers, which includes product sales.

When a business is selling retail products that are a direct extension of, or that accentuate and enhance the services offered, adopt a strategy that focuses on client education and communication.  Educate the customer on what types of products will help them as an extension of the services received. 

In a majority of cases, service providers are required to have advanced education, certification and even licensing.  These credentials provide your team members with a strong knowledge base they can share with customers and help them make informed decisions about ancillary products.  Consumers are going to your business for expert services. They can gain information about the products they will need to support or extend these services from your educated team members.    

In cases where your goal is to leverage the customer’s pride or brand loyalty to increase retail sales, a good strategy is to make the item as prominent and valued as possible. Have everyone in the business use, wear, and own the retail items to increase its visibility and prominence, which will enhance the pride of ownership.  Businesses can also use the retail products as prizes for customer loyalty and gifts with which to mark customer milestones.  This will continue to enhance the value of owning the product. 

Regardless of which strategy you choose, make sure to maximize your offerings and subsequent sales volume during peak gift giving times throughout they year.  Make a list of which holidays you see a great volume of service sales and then plan your retail sales accordingly in order to earn every retail dollar possible.  If you follow these simple steps, the business will be on its way to improved sales, happier customers, and very positive cash flow.  

About the Author

Barry Eichner

Barry Eichner, founder of Barry Eichner Consulting, specializes in articulating a spa's online presence through web site development, search engine optimization, blogging, e-mail marketing and social media. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing strategy, implementation, and consulting of beauty based businesses. Find out more about Barry by visiting barryeichner.com.

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