Citrus County, FL News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
3/25/2016
Measure Twice Cut Once

Measure Twice Cut Once

A Blog Post by Chamber member Pete Langlois, Nova Network

Customers are King. They set the priorities for your business because they control what they will buy, how they will buy, and when. How can you understand more about your customers so that you can find more buyers that act like your best customers: the ones who like and buy your highest margin products and services, the ones who look for the value you add because it meets their needs, and the ones who share your business and its offers with their friends?

The first and most critical step to find more customers like those you want most, is to pay close attention to the ones you have. Where do they live? Are they married? Do they own a home? What is their income level? How can you possibly know that? You can ask. Grocery stores do. Many ask for your identity in exchange for a card that gives "discounts" on products they offer. And while asking for income with a purchase of a soft drink doesn’t make sense, if you know an address, you can nearly guess the income by using a few publicly available tools. Neighborhoods have similar financial characteristics, and those characteristics are close enough to use effectively.

When your best customers come back, how do you recognize them? Will it be the spouse this time, and not the person you saw last? Will it be a different employee greeting them? How can you know how good a customer or a family is if you don't really know what they spent? Collecting an identifier or two (like address) sorts out this problem quickly, even if its just zip-code. Develop a customer measurement information system that best fits the type of information you can obtain and interaction you have with your customers. Get some help setting it up and training your team - if you need it. You need a system you and your team can manage.

Regardless of what your business does, measure your customers to understand their needs and likes, and to determine the best ways to reach them and those like them. Measuring to support decisions is sensible and smart for a broad set of businesses. It doesn't matter if your business provides building services, food, entertainment, or even a place to sleep. Know your customers so that with a bit of investigation your can tell how many other potential customers exist, and how existing and potential customers go about choosing a business in your category when start thinking about what you offer.

Know your best customers by keeping information that helps you recognize them, and lets you make informed decisions about how to find others like them. When practical, record name and address for credit card transactions. Take information from work orders, phone caller ID, and for some businesses it makes sense to see if the license plate is local or not. Some find it useful to offer a promotion to develop a name and address list with best contact method. If you run a seasonal business, understanding who buys in peak season when you are struggling to keep up - and the exact dates - will help better plan resources for next year. And measuring who buys in the off-season will help you understand promotion timing and key offers, offers that keep cash flow moving. A monthly top sales list (by geographic area) can be a great tool.

Whether for advertising, staffing, inventory, or a range of other reasons, knowing and measuring your best customers and their patterns and characteristics will give you the power to know, not guess, when it comes to important decisions. Ask any carpenter: measure twice, cut once. There are no "do overs" for important decisions you must make for your business.

Pete Langlois, Nova Network, novanetco.com, 703-930-9613