“It’s that time of year again,” writes Barb. “Yep, it’s visitor season in the Capes again. Can’t find a parking spot. Supermarket sold out of your favourites. Need to make a reservation at your neighbourhood noshery instead of just dropping in.”
“Despite the headaches, frustration and inconvenience, it’s a good thing to be in business. All it takes is 22 carloads of visitors to replace the smelly, noisy factory that nobody down here seems to favour.
The critical first step is to embrace the vagaries of a tourism dominant economy and look for ways to make it work for you instead of against you.
Advertise for staff early and employ as many locals as you can. Locals are already here, so housing is not an issue. Locals love the area, so they can extol its virtues at the drop of a hat, enticing your customers with an interesting yarn or two.
Think carefully about how you can keep staff. Review your pay scales and work hours to provide incentives wherever you can.
Forget about ‘minimum’ wage. Think ‘family’ wage and long term.
Provide early training in customer service, telephone technique or other related topics. Bring in a trainer who can train on the spot, in your premises, using your shop for examples.
Never make your customer beg for someone to take their money. If your front-line staff would rather talk about their weekend to fellow staff than serve your customer, the customer will probably keep their money and the staff will turn around to find a pile of goods on the counter, wondering what happened. Remember who pays the wages.
Take a good look at how you stock your shop and stock up on the items that sell well and often. Reduce the stock that sells only infrequently by having a sale before it takes up valuable floor space.
Frustrations with the busy summer trading season can be minimised when you realise that you depend on visitor spending. You want to do everything in your power to make their experience in your business a positive one.
Customers who have positive experiences come back. And they tell their friends. Up to 25 or more, according to customer research.
Customers who come back are the best kind. You don’t have to spend any money to entice them in and they spend every time they’re with you. What a deal!”
Barb is a regular PWF contributor. You can contact her at the Margaret River Business Centre, a small business consultancy. Ring 0437 800 489 or email maidment @netserv.net.au