How should you deal with a day without customers (or near enough)?
When your turnover is less than half what you predicted, it can be stressful, can’t it?
As small retailers, we’ve all experienced these periods (lasting from a few days to a few months) when it seems that nobody is visiting our shop. The first thing I can say to reassure you is that it happens to everyone!
There can be many reasons for a drop in traffic to your shop:
- sunny weather or school holidays,
- lockdowns or increased restrictions,
- a gradual decline in customer interest in your product offering,
- the arrival of new competitors in your local area.
A drop in traffic to your shop is often a difficult thing to deal with emotionally too: our ego takes a hit!
In this article, I’ll discuss the tactics and tricks you can use if your customers stop visiting your shop.
A drop in turnover: managing psychologically and emotionally
The first thing to do when you’re the manager of a small business and you see your turnover drop is to make sure that you’re coping with the situation.
So here are some tips which work for me; I hope they’ll help you too.
Learn more about the Four Agreements
If you’ve never heard of this short book, which can be read in just 2 hours, I recommend reading The Four Agreements.
The author of the book, Miguel Ruiz, has enjoyed incredible success and his book has sold millions of copies worldwide.
The reason for this success is the simple but very useful message he shares about our conditioning and the “agreements” we’ve had to make with our family, our environment and society as a whole so that we can grow and develop.
Some of these agreements may no longer be necessary in adulthood, but we continue to abide by them and they continue to influence us. For example, “I absolutely must succeed on a material level” is a fairly common agreement and won’t necessarily lead to happiness.
The book encourages you to apply 4 new agreements to your daily life, which are as follows:
- Be impeccable with your word,
- Don’t take anything personally,
- Don’t make assumptions,
- Always do your best.
As you can see, it’s pretty simple! The book develops these 4 points in detail and it’s a useful read to help you to take a step back and deal with things better, such as a drop in your shop’s turnover :)
For example, you can decide not to take it personally. This means separating your ego from the success of your shop. The problem doesn’t lie with you: there are other reasons for it.
Tell yourself that you’re doing your utmost to give your customers the very best. You work hard, you’re welcoming, you give good advice to your customers, you offer quality products (including Kami Store’s product range, perhaps?), etc.
In short, the Four Agreements can be a way of coping better with the stress of a drop in customers.
Similarly, having talked with other entrepreneurs and by practising it myself, I’ve found that regular mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to manage your emotions better and to combat stress.
You can practise it at a club or simply at home, either by buying a book on meditation or with an application like Petit Bambou.
There are many benefits to meditation, but it must be said that regular practice gives much better results. If you practise every 3 months, it will be much less effective than if you practise 10 minutes every morning.
Enjoy your meditation :)
Remember the purpose of your shop
Another good way to cope with a drop in customers is to take a step back and remember why you opened your shop.
You probably have a “purpose” which drives and motivates you every day. Perhaps you want to help to save the planet by providing sustainable or organic products.
When things aren’t going well, this purpose can really help you.
Repositioning your short-term and situational problem within a broader framework and focusing on the long term will help you to get back to work with a smile :)
Dealing with a drop in turnover in terms of your business
Once you have dealt with the situation on an emotional level and you’ve decided to act, it’s time to focus on the real issue: why is your turnover dropping?
Let's take a look at the 3 most common reasons for a drop in traffic.
The reason is situational
An example of a situational reason for a drop in your turnover is the end of lockdown: customers can now go to the beach or visit their families, making it impossible for them to visit your shop.
You can’t do anything about it!
In this event, my advice is simple:
- Try to anticipate situational events which may impact your turnover,
- Take advantage of these slower periods to continue developing your product offering and get ahead with your “to do” list.
A drop in traffic often means that you can enjoy some peace and quiet in your shop: sometimes two hours can pass without a customer!
If this is the case, take advantage of it by focusing on your accounts, paying your suppliers, dealing with administrative matters or your taxes or by doing anything else in your shop which needs doing.
These slower periods are also an opportunity to work on new ideas for your shop:
- find new sustainable products or organic products to add to your range,
- improve the décor or the presentation of products in your shop,
- consider the launch of a delivery or click-and-collect service,
- launch in-store events (presenting new products, conferences, etc.),
- and plenty of other ideas to make your shop more attractive.
When your customers come back to your shop, they’ll be delighted to see what’s new!
The reason is competitive
The opening of a competing shop in your local area can often provoke various negative feelings: disappointment, fear, anger.
However, competition is both inevitable and healthy: it stimulates creativity and can encourage you to push yourself to do even better.
This is what I suggest you do first: try to analyse the added value of your new competitor and work out how you can do even better, or on the contrary, how you can differentiate yourself by providing something innovative that your local market will appreciate.
You can then adapt and develop your marketing so that your customers are aware of the new products you’ve launched.
The reason is related to your product offering or your market
If the reason for your drop in traffic is a change in the market in which you operate or in your product offering, it’s important to analyse this carefully.
- read general and specialist press to learn more about current developments and trends,
- ask for advice from your accountant or experts in your field,
- talk to colleagues with similar shops in other areas to get their opinions and find solutions,
- create a survey to ask your existing customers and prospects for their opinion.
After analysing this information, you may need to “pivot” your business by making a significant change to your product offering or positioning.
Don't forget to secure your business financially!
Lastly, don't forget to contact your accountant or financial adviser to ensure that your company’s financial situation is solid, despite this drop in turnover.
If this isn’t the case, your accountant or adviser can discuss financial solutions which are outside the scope of this article: remortgaging, reducing certain costs, etc.
In conclusion, as we’ve seen, a drop in your shop’s turnover isn’t necessarily the end of the world! You can focus on creating the internal and external conditions to solve this problem and deal with it calmly: remember, everyone has experienced a drop in turnover :)