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COVID-19: The one mistake business owners make when times get tough

- March 13, 2020 2 MIN READ

Australian business owners reeling from the double-whammy impact of the coronavirus and bushfires are more likely to fail if their sole focus is boosting customer numbers, according to business profit coach Jen Waterson.

As businesses struggle to stay afloat, let alone make a profit, Waterson says looking for new customers is often the knee-jerk reaction. ‘

It’s not always about finding more clients,” says Waterson, founder of Simply Smarter Numbers. “In some cases, it’s the worst thing a business can do.”

“It costs time and money to bring in new customers, and when times are tough these resources are even more scarce. Business owners need to ask one crucial question: are they doing everything they possibly can for their current customers?”

New research shows the coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted one in six Australian businesses (15%), while more than a quarter (28%) have lost business as a result of bushfire. The Roy Morgan SMS survey of 1170 businesses was conducted in mid-February.

Waterson says retailers are reporting huge drops in customer numbers, and lower spending when they come through the doors.

“Sadly, tough times are becoming a way of life for business owners, no matter where they are located,” Waterson says. “Before spending money and time looking for new customers, retailers should first tackle these two issues.”

Information Is Power

“Make sure ALL of your existing customers know ALL of the products or services you offer,” Waterson says. “Listing your products and services on your website doesn’t count. Physically reminding your existing customers of everything you offer can create quick sales. Your customers already know you, like you and trust you, so it’s a much easier sell than finding brand new customers.”

Speak Up

“Do you know if your existing customers have purchased all of your products or services?” Waterson asks. “It’s as easy as striking up a conversation. Clearly not everyone will need or want everything you offer and that’s ok. Go through your customer list and consider who may need, want or see value in other products or services you offer. Then, make contact with them and open the conversation. If they aren’t in the market right now, ask for a referral, these people may know someone else that wants what you’re selling.”

Simplicity is the key, according to Waterson. “At the end of the day, it’s easier and cheaper to try and sell more to your existing customers than it is to spend all available time and money on marketing to new people,” she says.

Jen Waterson is a business coach and CPA at Simply Smarter Numbers

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