Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
September 13th, 2017

3 Things to Do to Prepare Your Traditional Business for the Massive Changes Coming

Unless you have your head in the sand, you are well aware that business is changing in a big way. Traditional shopping malls across our country are closing as they cannot retain customers nor keep their stores filled. Retail giants like Sears are on life support and likely will not exist for much longer. Now, traditional grocery stores are feeling extremely threatened by Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and what that could mean for the grocery store industry. Finally, Amazon recently announced plans to open a complete second headquarters in the U.S. that would employ 50,000 employees. That would be in addition to its facility in Seattle that employs an equal amount. What is going on, and how can you prepare your business to remain relevant as this evolution in the way we buy goods and services takes place?

First, let’s discuss what is going on. In my opinion, while technology has allowed all of us to become more efficient, it has also taught us to place a higher value on every segment of time. Increasingly, people are getting accustomed to being able to shop on their schedule and in the way they choose. They do not want to be restricted by traditional shopping experiences available only at a given set of hours. The retailers that win in the future will be the companies that service this new desired experience in a way that respects the client’s time.

So, what can you do if you own a traditional business that delivers goods or services during a given set of hours? Below I have listed three ways that you can adjust your current business strategy to fit within the given restraints you have while demonstrating respect for the client’s time and preferences.

  1. Offer online booking – Ideally, you want to begin thinking of ways that your website can offer online booking, complete with payment options that integrate directly into your scheduling system. This should include expected time frame for job completion. A client should be able to book your 8:30 a.m. time slot on Wednesday all while watching TV at 10:00 at night. By allowing them to schedule the work on their time, you are respecting their time and not forcing them to do business with you when it is convenient for you.
  2. Do not overbook – Continuing from the example above, when the client shows up, you should be expecting them and be ready to begin their work immediately. If you stated online that the job should take 90 minutes, and they booked the 8:30 a.m. appointment, you should be wrapping up the transaction with them at roughly 10:00 a.m. There will always be small things and sometimes big things, which that can come up, but the goal should be to honor the appointment time and the expected work time you stated.
  3. Offer alternatives to waiting and enhancements while waiting – If you cannot accurately project how much time a job will take, offer alternatives to waiting or enhancements to the wait time. At a minimum, you should have a clean and tidy place that someone can wait that is also equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi. That way, if the client wanted to stay and wait, they would be able to tackle other things during that time.

    In addition, you can offer alternatives to waiting. Include a free Uber ride up to a certain dollar amount with every job if the client wants to go somewhere instead of waiting. Offer a free shuttle service to a local shopping center, library, etc. The point is that you are respecting their time and offering ways to enable them to continue to get things accomplished while waiting on your company to complete your service.

The entire focus of this article can be wrapped up by saying that people increasingly value their time and will reward businesses that demonstrate that they also value their client’s time. The strategies to demonstrate that can be different across various businesses, but the message they deliver should be the same. If you force potential customers to do business the way you have always done it on the time frame you have always used, you will likely find your business beginning to steadily decline as others adopt ways to show your clients other options.

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  1. Hmmmmmm I wonder how online booking would work with a mobile business. We offer mobile window tint so we can come to the customer when it is convenient for them. Travel time would have to incorporated We have actually done really well offering mobile services. I think that is another way to stay at the top of your market.

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