Ruth Larkin talks about the importance of putting your business through a regular MOT to ensure on-going success and growth.
Just like you regularly do with your car, it’s important to put your business and strategies through a rigorous MOT test. Like the dozens of checks that your car goes through to ensure the vehicle is safe, secure and capable of driving you into the future, an MOT on your business strategy should do just the same for your ongoing success.
It’s so easy when things are busy for small things to get overlooked and pushed to one side. As customers are back saying Yes To The Dress, it’s important to ensure that your brand, business, reputation and importantly your sales, continue to remain solid and stable–you can’t afford to overlook the little things. Just like a fraying line can lead to break failure, a fraying process can lead to sales and reputational loss.
So, what are the 3 top things to look at to make sure that you stay on the road for the next season for many more miles to come?
M.O.T = Merchandising – Operational Processes – Team
Your merchandising covers everything from in-store design and lay-out, to the selection of products suiting your core customers, to the physical and digital marketing to your customers. Start fresh and simple this season and pin-point exactly who your core customer is. Build a profile of who she is: age, influences, style, values, budget, expectations, purchasing thought process, and social media engagement. When you really understand who you core customer is, it can make the job of your physical in-store marketing and your digital social media marketing so much easier, because now you have a specific customer to target and speak to. The bride you targeted two years ago is probably not the same type of bride today with so many changes and new influences around them, so regularly re-assessing your core customer is vital to staying relatable to your audience.
If your core client base is trending towards soft, ethereal, vintage vibes, then there is no point investing heavily in classic traditional styles – make sure you cater to what’s needed and wanted. The same with your social media – if “the eyes are the window to the soul”, then social media is the window to your store. Your messaging, your in-store experience, your brand identity and how you portray your offering are critically important and should be efficiently represented on your social media page, because this is where most of your customers land long before going near your website or store itself. Make it speak to your true customer, and make it sell!
It can be beneficial to create a card for you and each of your team about who your specific customer is. Even give her a name! It keeps it to the front of your mind and helps ensure that every aspect of engagement – from the first touch point on social media, to the fittings, to the sale – is tailored to your particular client.
Do you have processes in place to help ensure the smooth running of things both in-store and behind-the-scenes? There are lots of systems to support you with appointment scheduling, accounts, ordering and so on, but do you have set scheduled processes for other small but important tasks that can sometimes slip? What are your processes around making follow up calls to customers who didn’t buy post-appointment, re-confirming appointments in-advance, creating and scheduling your social media content, refreshing and sanitising the store, team training? These behind-the-scenes processes can take up a lot of time, but are essential to ensure the smooth running of your business.
Try putting in place set time slots each week that are specifically for the different processes. Taking them at different times in bite size nuggets can make them easier to manage. Don’t forget, you may also be surrounded by team members that have certain key strengths not to be overlooked. Don’t be afraid to delegate specific tasks to certain team members who may excel at it, who will appreciate and perform better as a result of being entrusted with more responsibilities.
Your team are a representation of your business to the world, an extension of the brand identity you have created and promote. With your guidance, training and support, they can become confident, empowered and successful within their own roles and for the business. Make sure to invest in your team each week and try to ensure you hit all 3 L’s: listen, learn and lead.
By listening, not only can you understand better, but you can resolve issues, improve processes and make your team feel supported and appreciated. Learn from them: your team are positioned to give you invaluable feedback from the floor on styles that are selling best, trending best, or styles that you are missing, all essential information to know in order to ensure you are purchasing the right gowns, products and items that will earn their place on your rack. And of course, lead: every business has to have a leader that the team can turn to with issues, concerns, queries, or simply when commercial decisions need to be made, good or bad. When your team see you addressing each issue, obstacle or positive experience with confidence, with power and with enthusiasm no matter what it is, it can drive others to step up and step forward.
Just because things are now motoring in the right direction again, it’s not time to take your foot off the pedal. It’s time to accelerate forward to new achievements…with a regular business MOT!
If you would like additional support on your business and sales strategy, contact Ruth Larkin and her team at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure not to miss her next live takeover on @BridalBuyerMagazine Instagram Thursday 17th June 2PM, where she will be talking all things business and professional performance joined by this months special guest, Jo Stott.