I increased my business 75 per cent in just six months and I had fun while I was doing it. You can do it too.
The keys to my success were (1) getting out and meeting people and (2) taking steps to set my business apart from the competition.
It started with having the best product available. This piece is important for retaining your customers once you get them. If you don’t have the best it had better be the cheapest, but it is much more rewarding to compete on quality.
Having the best product wasn’t enough, though, because not a lot of people knew about it. I spent 3 1/2 years working in my business instead of on my business. When I spoke with people, they’d say, “I’ve heard about your place… where is it?” Needless to say, that isn’t a very good recipe for growth.
Things started to change when I got involved in the community. For me, it happened when I became a part-time business adviser for the Umpqua Community College Small Business Development Center. As a business adviser, I was meeting and helping people to improve their businesses, I was involved in committees and I was attending networking activities. Each person I met was a potential customer.
The great part about this is that I wasn’t soliciting, I wasn’t selling. Sales is a field that takes a special person and I’m not that at all. When I showed interest in other people, they showed interest in me. They’d ask me what I do and I’d tell them. It is fun talking about what you are passionate about. People want to interact with the people around them. It is all very natural.
And do you know what else is great? Everyone you talk to knows a bunch of people, and if you leave a good impression in their minds, they are going to mention you or your business the next time the occasion arises.
The other significant thing I did was doing something that set my business apart. For me, it involved selling draft microbrew beer to go. This is something that is becoming popular around Oregon and the United States as a whole. What is your “beer to go”?
When you set yourself apart you need to go big. I started with a 15-tap system and recently increased it to 30 taps so now I have more taps than anyone else in Douglas County. I am also exclusively featuring microbrews. These steps created a “wow.”
The result was that I went from selling a few hundred dollars worth of bottled beer a month to several thousand dollars worth of draft beer. My customers are getting to experience something new and exciting while they visit and I finally get to start paying off some of my debt.
So what can you do to set yourself apart? What can you do to meet people in the community? Come down to the Umpqua Business Center and setup a free advising session with me or another great adviser.
Sam Gross is owner of Logger’s Pizza in Roseburg and is an adviser for the UCC Small Business Development Center.