Small business owners can take advantage of such trends by establishing a relationship with customers, Willson said, because it is much less expensive to keep a current customer than it is to find a new one.
Good service includes greeting customers and letting them browse before approaching them about a sale, he said.
And, Willson said, “in a small town, you ought to know your customers’ names.”
Jeff Emsweller, executive director of the Chamber, said he thought Willson’s speech was excellent, and that he wished the seminar had been attended by more than the roughly 15 guests. He said he understood that especially small business owners may not have been able to afford staying away from their business for two hours, but given the critical information Willson provided, the truth is they probably could not afford to stay away.
Dale Huntington, owner of Huntington Jewelers, 122 E. Washington St., said the seminar gave him a lot of useful information and suggestions about how to improve his business.
A second-generation owner of a small business, Huntington said he still conducts his business in a lot of ways as he has for decades, and Willson has made him realize that he has to strongly consider engaging customers through social media.
Susan Burkhart, of Doerflinger Insurance Agency, said she, too, thought Willson offered a lot of helpful tips, especially concerning setting yourself apart from competitors, focusing on customer service and branding.
“Everybody who owns a small business should have been here,” she said.
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Questions business owners have to be able to answer to increase their chances for success: What is your business? What need does it fill? Who is the customer? Why is it special? Why is it better than the competition? How is that communicated (in 30 seconds or less)? Source: Retail expert Marc Willson, principal of consulting firm The Willson Co.