Opinion

Tough times: Kick grumpy attitudes to the curb

CHAMBER CHAT

Yes Virginia, it is possible to succeed in a struggling economy.

In these times of economic upheaval it’s hard to resist the Chicken Little mentality that the sky is falling. This often manifests in knee-jerk reactions to cut expenses, cut corners, misplace long-held values and principles and be just down-right grumpy.

The first place that generally suffers in a business is marketing. Advertising budgets get slashed, memberships in networking groups are cancelled and then a business owner wonders why there’s no one coming through the door. Make sure you are visible, now more than ever. It means being creative, thinking beyond “this is the way we always did it...” and connecting with the consumers and professionals who can bring business to you.

Resist the temptation to choose to suffer and bemoan the current conditions, it is reflected in your approach to your clients and adversely affects your sales. Show confidence in your product or service. People want to do business with winners.

Troubling times make for troubled people, your employees included. We all have bad days but gruff, grumpy and short doesn’t win clients and customers. Make sure employees are motivated and believe in what they are selling. The smallest gesture of employee appreciation can go a long way in the attitude presented to your clients. Happy employees share that feeling with customers and happy customers are more likely to spend.

Find your niche and do it better than anyone. The big guy down the street might be able to sell widgets for less than you can. But are his widgets the same quality as yours? Does a customer receive his widget from the big guy down the street in a crate, in a hundred pieces, that needs to be assembled? Does that guy stand behind the product after it’s left the store or require your first born male child in order to do a return if something is amiss?

Remember that your customer service, your “service after the sale,” your values and principles can help you successfully compete with the “big guys.” Share those things with your clients. Large or small, I’d rather do business with a company that values me as a customer as opposed to a sale. I’d rather spend my money with a business that understands the importance of being involved in the community from which they derive their revenue.

Make your clients’/customers’ experiences pleasant ones. Make sure they are satisfied. The transaction isn’t complete until they are. “I don’t know...,” “We don’t do that…,” or worse “We can’t do that…” need to be replaced with, “Let me find out…” and “Let’s see how we can make that happen…”

Now is the time to reach out and connect with the businesses around you. Co-op advertising for your block, your plaza and your shopping center is an excellent way to stretch your dollars. Partner with neighboring businesses and create promotions around a common theme. The customer who regularly frequents the guy next door, but has never crossed your threshold just might be your next big client if you give him reason to come in, even if it’s just for a gingerbread cookie during a combined holiday block party.

It is possible to survive, even succeed, in a struggling economy. You have the power to affect so many of the conditions toward that success.

As always, the public is invited to attend our monthly membership meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26 at the Silverdale Beach Hotel. Jon Pearson, president of the Central Kitsap Community Council, is our guest speaker. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Don’t forget you can keep abreast of Chamber happenings by subscribing to our weekly e-mail newsletter. Send an e-mail to subscribe@silverdalechamber.com. Until next month — shop Silverdale!

Darla Murker is the executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.

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