Best Industry Podcasts for Restaurant Owners

As a restaurant owner, it is beneficial to stay on top of the latest news in your industry. Unfortunately, this business requires a big time commitment, and not many owners have the availability to network or even read restaurant-related news.

Most, however, would find it valuable to connect to relevant sources to help them run their business if they can do it on the go. Podcasts offer exactly that opportunity to restaurant owners, allowing them to hear experts in the field discuss topics of relevance to them that they can listen to during their commute, while exercising, or even planning meals for their restaurant. Here are the very best, hand-selected podcasts for restaurant owners.

Social Restaurant Podcast – Weekly Talk Radio for Restaurateurs

Nate Riggs, a NR Media Group owner and professional speaker, puts on a weekly episode in which the restaurant business is discussed. Each episode is 30 to 60 minutes, and features owners, operators, executives, authors, chefs and technology experts from the top restaurants worldwide.

Nate leads discussions about the latest trends, helpful technological advances and other topics of relevance to the food industry. The episodes features one-on-one interviews, conversations, commentary and advice on reinventing your restaurant!

Profitable Hospitality

Profitable Hospitality is a website designed for owners and managers of hospitality businesses, including restaurants and cafes. The founder, Ken Burgin, has been in hospitality for over 25 years, owning various restaurants, as well as serving as an advisor.

The site features a multitude of podcasts (over 250!) with restaurant owners, managers and chefs, among others.

Topics include:

  • Diversity
  • Menu customization
  • Targeting specific audience
  • Finances
  • And more!

Restaurant Unstoppable

Calling itself the #1 podcast for restaurant owners, these podcasts target independent restaurant owners. Run by Eric Cacciatore (like the chicken dish), the site started when he was a mere hospitality student to broaden his horizons. Now, he helps business owners learn the tips and tricks to expand and successfully run their restaurants.

He allows his listeners to hear advice from industry experts, as well as sharing their failures to teach others never to give up. He also provides actionable advice for getting funding, managing a team and marketing.

Secret Sauce

The secret is out—the site marketing4restaurants.com shares their take on the best marketing strategies to run these businesses.

The advice comes from the real world—monthly analytics of bookings and orders from actual restaurants. This helps the podcasts provide actionable and proven tips to help restaurant owners.

The reason this blog is helpful is because marketing for restaurants is unique from other industries, and you can learn the best and most cost efficient ways to grow your business.

Table Touch

Hosts Brandon Hull, founder of NextRestaurants, a marketing-focused restaurant resource on the web, and Randy Lopez, the founder of JaKE, a restaurant-industry marketing and PR agency, came together to create this podcast.

They invite leaders in the restaurant world to help listeners hear their opinions on:

  • Building a brand
  • Opening multiple locations
  • Sales
  • Holiday menus

If you hear some helpful advice about growing your business and need financial help in realizing it, let us help! IOU Financial specializes in helping small business secure business loans of up to $300,000. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more.

 

Best Marketing Methods to Bring in New Salon Clients

For a salon to be successful, your calendar must be full of appointments. If you are just starting out, you must attract new clients so that your salon doesn’t operate without any customers. To grow an existing salon business, you need to maximize the amount of clients so you can hire more stylists to grow your profits. How do you attract new clientele to your salon? By utilizing the following proven marketing methods:

Utilize Local Social Media Groups

While some people will walk into a salon without knowing anything about it, most people want some kind of referral. In the past, we had to rely on our friends, family members and colleagues. In today’s world social media is king when it comes to referral sources.

As a salon is a brick-and-mortar business, you must concentrate on the individuals in close proximity to you, as they are your most obvious customers. Apps such as Nextdoor and local groups on Facebook are great resources to connect with your neighbors.

Stay on top of these groups – answer questions in which people may ask for services such as those your offer, or inquire about advertising opportunities on these groups.

Start a Referral Program

To motivate your current clients  to refer your salon to their network of friends, simply offer them a reward!

You can offer a special discount or a free service or product for any customer who brings in their friend! Reward top referrers with special prizes to encourage them to keep spreading the word.

Social media can also play a role in this strategy.  Ask your clients to post reviews, upload photos and recommend your business on their social media accounts.

Become an Influencer

Many small business owners turn to influencers, or individuals with large social media followings, to market their services. The problem is that strategy is typically expensive, and it doesn’t target your local audience.

Instead, spend your efforts to become an influencer yourself! Create a YouTube channel, start an Instagram account or open a Pinterest account to share your expertise in a given area—makeup, hair, nails or hair removal services.

With the right photos and videos and relevant advice, you can become an expert in your field and lead new customers to come to you instead of searching for them!

Get Involved in the Community

Another way to achieve brand recognition in your neighborhood is to get involved in your community. Sponsor a local school event, a charity or a little league team. Organize a park or beach cleanup event to do something good!

If you can get local media to cover the event, and create some posters or make T-shirts, that would be amazing advertising for your business.

It has been proven by a study that community involvement is something that customers keep in mind when choosing which business to support, and that it leads to “loyal customers and happier employees.”

Investing into marketing strategies to bring in new clients is never a bad idea. However, if you don’t have the financial means required, IOU Financial is ready to help. Contact us to learn how you can get qualified for a small business loan of up to $300,000 in just 24-48 hours!

Four Easy Strategies to Create Email Campaigns that Retain Customers

Customer loyalty is one of the most important differentiators between a successful and a failed business. It takes time and and investment to attract new customers—customer acquisition costs alone can make it cost prohibitive to run a business. This is why taking steps to retain your current customers is vital to generating sales in a retail environment.

Keeping your customers in the loop about new products and services, alerting them to sales and special deals and simply staying in communication with them through email campaigns is a cost effective and proven strategy. In fact, one source claims that email marketing is more effective than Facebook and Twitter! We share with you tricks of the trade to implement email campaigns to ensure customer loyalty.

Know Your Audience

Email marketing is completely ineffective unless the emails are opened and read. In order to accomplish this, you need to tailor the content to your particular target audience. Do you know who your clients are? Knowing the following demographics can significantly increase the chances of your emails being read:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Income level
  • Interests
  • Purchase history

Once you have these demographics, you can segment your email lists to make them more interesting to your customers. MailChimp found that segmented campaigns get 14.64% more opens and 59.99% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.

Personalize Emails

People get dozens, if not hundreds, of emails per day, most of it spam. We are so used to ignoring or deleting content that is of no interest to us, that it is increasingly difficult for retail owners to cut through the clutter. One way of getting a reader’s attention is to personalize the email that is sent out.

Experian found that simply including a person’s name in an email’s subject line increased open-rates by as much as 42% for companies that are selling products or services. And the biggest bonus was not just that more people read the emails, but that they spent more money! “Transaction rates were 49% higher and revenue per email was 73% higher with personalization.”

Share Interesting Content

To retain your customers, it’s not enough to simply make announcements in your emails, you need to create relevant content that is interesting and important to them. In addition to sales announcements, consider sending out articles that educate your readers about topics that are of interest to them.

One article explains that educating customers not only builds trust, but it also adds a human element to email marketing. When you are able to get your customers to trust you, you become an expert in your field in their eyes, which makes it easier for them to open their wallets and make purchases based on your recommendations.

Create a Call to Action

Always focus on the main goal of every email—it’s not just to get readers to open or read it, but to generate a sale and retain a customer. It’s not enough to hope that individuals do this, you need to ask, or better yet, direct them in doing so.

Include a call to action (CTA) in every single piece of email sent out. These can ask readers to like your social media page, visit your landing page, purchase a product or share your article with their social network.

There are many useful software programs that will help you design and test effective email marketing strategies that work. If you need financial help in setting up a marketing plan, turn to IOU Financial. We can secure a small business loan for you with a few easy steps and quick funding. Contact us today!

Four Proven Marketing Tips for Restaurants to Implement During the Holidays

The holidays are a joyous and busy time for many, but some restaurants owners see a decline in business during the winter months. One source found that as many as 61% of restaurants reported a decline of up to 20% in patrons and sales during this time.

There are a multitude of reasons that sales can be down, ranging from cold weather which discourages patrons from leaving their homes and times spent indoors with family rather than out and about. A holiday decline does not have to affect your restaurant, however, if you strategize with carefully crafted marketing holiday marketing tips to drive customers to your business!

Holiday-Themed Menu

People love to feel festive during the holidays, which is why adding a holiday-themed menu can draw people to your restaurant. Consider offering family-friendly meals that your patrons can eat in or take to enjoy at home. Offering family-sized meals makes it convenient for your customers to quickly order without having to deliberate on what items and amounts to get.

Add holiday-themed foods to your menu to appeal to your patrons’ palates! Holiday favorites, such as turkey, egg nog and stuffing are always a hit! Get creative with adding items and ingredients that your customers may not be familiar with to surprise them and keep them guessing!

Appeal to the smallest patrons by offering foods that can excite them, such as specialty-shaped foods (sandwiches shaped like Christmas trees!), holiday cookies and other treats shipped from the North Pole.

Holiday-Themed Activities

Help your patrons get in the spirit by adding a holiday feel to your restaurant. You can choose specific nights to throw special holiday parties which feature holiday music and a winter wonderland decor.

If you have a family-friendly restaurant, encourage your customers to bring their kids by planning a visit from Santa Claus, as well as arts and craft activities, such as making holiday cards. Advertising a free photo with Santa with every family meal can help your customers save on holiday photos and instead spend their money in your restaurant.

Holiday Specials

The holidays are an expensive time when most of us shop for gifts for family and friends. Help ease the financial burden your patrons may be facing by offering holiday specials and coupons that they will surely appreciate.

Consider tying in an exclusive discount with a charitable cause, which is always important to remember during the holidays. Ask your customers to stop by and leaved canned food for a local food bank or used clothes for a nearby shelter. In exchange for their donation, you can offer a discount on their food purchase or a free item (a drink or dessert) in addition to a paid meal.

Marketing

Once you figure out your holiday menu, decor, activities and specials, you need to share that information with your target audience so that they can be informed about what is going on at your restaurant. Consider the best ways to get their attention and how best to spend your marketing budget.

If your restaurant is located in an area with high traffic, putting up a large sign or poster may suffice. Otherwise, sending in-home mailers to your local patrons or sending out emails through your customer database can be effective.

To stand out from the competition, consider unique ways that you can grab your customers’ attention and encourage them to frequent your business. This can include funny holiday cards to make them laugh or bold online campaigns.

Should you need help to invest in marketing or making your restaurant holiday-friendly, IOU Financial is happy to help. We offer hassle-free small business loans of up to $300,000 in as little as 24-48 hours. Visit our website to get more details about how we can help your restaurant thrive during the holidays and all year round!

Tips for Restaurant Owners: How to Take Better Food Photos

What would you do to increase your restaurant’s profits by 30%? What if all you needed to do was snap a photo? That’s right, one study found that taking and sharing photos of food served at your restaurant can increase profit by as much as 30%! Unfortunately, most of us are not skilled photographers, and with the mass amount of competition online, it is imperative to improve your skills to grab your audience’s attention. Read on to find tips on taking better food photos!

Choose Natural Light

While professional photographers don’t go anywhere without fancy lighting, good old natural light is best for taking photos of food. This is because you want to show food as it truly looks without adding any yellow or orange hues from artificial lighting (no one is going to want to eat yellow rice or orange eggs!).

What’s the best way of getting natural light? Go outside! Avoid spots with direct sunlight as that will add shadows in your photo. Instead, try to take your photos on overcast days where just the right amount of sunlight peers through the clouds.

Need to take photos when it’s raining or snowing, and outside is simply not an option? Take photos near windows or a patio, allowing the sunlight to hit the plate from as many angles as possible.

Remove the Clutter

A professional photo only contains what the photographer intended the viewer to see. Look through the lens and remove any objects that are not required in your photo. You can leave objects that enhance the image, such as flowers, a fork and knife or a beautiful landscape; however, you want the viewers to concentrate on the food rather than be distracted by anything else. In fact, the best backgrounds for food photos are neutral, light or dark; avoid reflective backgrounds such as countertops.

Choose the Best Angle

Taking a photo of a plate or pasta, a smoothie or a sandwich all require different angles. The rule of thumb is to shoot from above when the food is on a bowl or plate as this provides the best view of all of the ingredients in the food and minimizes the background (unless you choose to zoom out and include more details in the photo). Drinks and foods with layers, such as sandwiches, lasagna and cakes, best shot from the side.

Focus on the Arrangement

When your restaurant patrons come into your business, they are hungry and don’t pay too much attention to how their food is arranged as long as it tastes good. However, when you want to attract new customers based on photos alone, arrangement is key.

Learn the art of food plating to carefully and aesthetically place the food so that it looks attractive. Consider what ingredients you can add to enhance the look of the food, such as bright spices, green spice leaves or bold sauce colors.

While you can take photos with your iPhone or a cheap camera, the best photos are made with professional cameras. If you need help in financing this expense, or want to truly invest in photo marketing and hire a professional photographer, IOU Financial is ready to sponsor this goal! We help small business owners acquire loans in 24-48 hours. Contact us today to learn more.

How to Start an Online Site for Your Retail Store

Whether you already own a brick and mortar store, or just want to focus your retail efforts online, creating a website is an important step to growing your business. With over half of Americans preferring to shop online, not creating a user-friendly e-commerce site is not a smart decision. Read on for steps on starting an online site for your retail store.

Choose a Website Name

The first step to creating a retail store is choosing a website name. Ideally, you want the name to be the same as your actual business name. If you are just starting a business, consider including relevant keywords into your domain name to make your site come up in Google search rankings. 

Check GoDaddy to verify if your first choice for domain names is available; the site can also recommend domain names for you based on keywords you input into the search field. If available, choose a .com address as that’s the most common and easiest to remember. Although this is not officially stated anywhere, Google doesn’t prefer .biz or .info extensions because a majority of those websites are considered to be spam. Purchase a domain name through your web hosting provider or a different domain name service.

Pick a Hosting Solution

In order for your website to be found online, you need to choose a web hosting platform that will store your site on its server. There is a multitude of web hosts to choose from, both free and paid. Paid web hosts typically provide more options and services that can benefit your site in the longer, such as:

  • Storage: While free web hosting solutions offer up to 10GB of free storage, a paid service can give you unlimited storage space. Images and videos can take up a lot of space, causing you to run out of storage quickly.
  • Domain Name: If you want a custom domain name, you will need to pay for your web host because free options mostly include their own site in your domain name, such as www.wix.com/yournamehere
  • Ads: Free web hosts often make their money by advertising on your site; if you would rather control what ads (if any) you run, you will need to pay a premium fee.
  • Support: It’s very difficult to get support for free web hosting solutions, while paid ones will usually provide a phone number or chat options to a specialist who can help you 24/7.

Consider Wix, WordPress, HostGator or FatCow for inexpensive options for your ecommerce website.

Hire a Web Designer

While many web hosts allow novices to build websites from scratch using pre-designed formats and add-ons, it is always best to hire a professional web designer who will create an easy-to-use, functioning and unique website that will look and feel professional.

Concentrate on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

According to Entrepreneur, SEO is the third vital step to online business success after offering good products and creating a great site. Optimizing your website with keywords that online users can search for to lead them to your site is imperative to gain traffic. 

Utilize Google’s Keyword planner to enter terms relevant to your brand. This free tool will suggest other terms, as well as provide information about competition and search results for each keyword. Once you have this information, you can include the keywords in your website content, blogs, press releases and image tags.

Starting a retail website usually requires an initial investment for website design, SEO and advertising. If you need financial help to grow your business, turn to IOU Financial. We can provide a small business loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours.

 

Three Resources Your Salon Can be Using to Make Life Easier

Hair and nails salon owners know that time is of the essence when it comes to managing their business, which is why it is essential to stay on top of the latest resources that could be making your life easier. A large portion of the time spent managing a salon requires booking appointments, managing staff schedules and marketing to attract new clients. In this article, we will explore the latest resources to help you with these endeavours.

Booker

One of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks for a salon owner is managing employee schedules. Booker takes the pressure off this responsibility by eliminating the need to check in with your stylists and have miscommunications about schedules by automating the staff scheduling process.

You can input a weekly schedule for your staff which will remain constant throughout the year, or give them access to the system so they can update their schedule without your involvement. Your stylists can access their schedule from anywhere at anytime, knowing when they have appointments and whey they have time off.  

Schedulicity

If you are like the typical salon owner, your customers call you to schedule an appointment, you check the appointment book and/ or ask the individual stylists if they are available and write the appointment in. This system is antiquated and not foolproof; how many times have you written down the wrong contact information or name while you were in a hurry? How many clients forgot about their appointments altogether because you simply didn’t have the time to make reminder calls?

Imagine eliminating this entire process and saving yourself time to concentrate on something else. With Schedulicity, you can take yourself completely out of the equation of scheduling client appointments! Simply plan ahead by creating an online calendar based on your stylists’ availability and allow your customers to schedule their own appointments online!

Clients can utilize this calendar from a computer, smartphone or tablet, and can add their personal information as well as notes for the stylist. Plus, Schedulicity has the ability to send text reminders to your clients prior to their appointments, reducing cancellations.

DemandForce

DemandForce is a solution to attract new clients and keep your loyal customers coming back. It integrates with your current business management system to automate communication with your customers via voice, text, email or on social media.

DemandForce offers several features, such as providing the latest information about your business to local listings, such as Google, Bing, Citysearch, Yellowpages.com, etc. To help your customers find you, you won’t need to update your contact information or hours on each website anymore; all you will need to do is update it on the DemandForce site, sit back and let them do the work.

This tool will send automatic surveys to your customers after their appointments, letting them know you care about their feedback and providing you with a chance to correct a situation before you lose a client or get a bad review online. You have the ability to feature positive reviews on your site or on social media.

While some of these services are free, others have premium features which can streamline your operations and help your business. IOU Financial is committed to helping salon owners grow their business. We can offer a small business loan up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours. Contact us today!

Is Your Restaurant’s Social Media the Best it Can Be?

Are you including social media as part of your marketing efforts to promote your restaurant?  Most business owners are aware at this point that social media is one of the best ways to create brand awareness and engage with their clientele. However, many don’t have the time or the skills to understand the best ways to utilize social media. Read the tips in this blog to fine tune your social media strategy to promote your business online.

Focus on a Limited Amount of Platforms

There are a multitude of social media platforms, which makes it difficult for restaurant owners to concentrate and devote enough time to each and every one. Instead of doing a poor job managing various social media profiles, focus on one to three of most important ones, which are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Facebook

Facebook is definitely the most important platform to concentrate on because the site has 1.71 billion users around the world, each of whom has an average of 155 friends. Therefore, creating a Facebook Business page is essential.

Think carefully about what cover image you want to include; it can be an enticing and unique dish or a photo of your patrons having a great time in your restaurant. Consider what image you want your restaurant to reflect – family friendly, hip and trendy or business-appropriate, and then create a consistent look across all of your marketing strategies.

Facebook has tabs and sections that allow you to include text, photos and videos to promote your restaurant. This is the perfect place to share your menu items, photos of food, coupons and specials to attract your clients.

Twitter

Twitter has over 67 million users in the US alone; more than 20% of all Internet users have a Twitter account. This platform allows you to share tweets of 140 characters or less, as well as photos and videos. It’s advantageous to include photos because those tweets get read and shared more than those that only include text.


Twitter is great to announce new menu items, specials and coupons and ask followers to retweet that information. Twitter is popular for their hashtags, which are simply words or phrases that are relevant to your brand that your users can search for. These may include: #NYrestaurants; #Chinesefood; #LAcheapeats; #baconcheeseburger, etc.

Instagram

Since Facebook acquired Instagram, it is estimated that 95% of the time a Facebook user shares an image, it also gets posted on their Instagram account. Instagram allows users to post photos and videos only, although they can include a comment and tag their location (to your restaurant location).

It’s vital to use bright, creative and unique images that will stand out from the competition if you want to get noticed. Additionally, Instagram is big on hashtags too, so including them in the comments will help your posts get noticed and shared.

General Tips for Getting Better Results from Social Media

Whether you only decide to focus on one or all three of the platforms mentioned above, you need to utilize the following tips to get the best from your efforts:

  • Be consistent – The only way to build a loyal fan base is to be consistent in your marketing efforts. Posting a few times per week will keep your customers engaged with your business and aware of the latest happenings in your restaurant.
  • Time your posts – You may only have time to post after work, but by then most of your customers may be busy with other tasks. Evaluate when your posts get the most likes, comments and shares, and plan to post during those times so your content will get maximum views.
  • Create contests – Social media is a great way to get free referrals and advertising from your followers. To encourage them to share your posts with their network, create contests that will reward those who repost or retweet your posts with a free dinner!

While simply spending your own time to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost a thing, investing into social media can provide great returns. Endeavours such as social media advertising, paying influencers to spread the word about your restaurant and hiring professionals photographers to create one-of-a-kind images can be costly. If you need financial help to invest in your business, contact IOU Financial. We can help you with a small business loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours.

Creative Ways to Attract Local Customers to Your Small Business

Nothing is more disheartening to owners than an empty store, a phone that doesn’t ring, or a website with few visitors. You know you could make sales if only more customers would visit. Well, don’t sulk, get creative. Here are a few ways to draw in more customers:

Signage:

A sandwich chalkboard in front of your store can be a great attention getter. It’s ephemeral nature (you redo it every day) makes it timely, and when you use it to advertise one-day specials, you can expect to attract more customers. Restaurants use this technique all the time, but your retail store can easily adopt it. If the weather is bad, stick a banner in your window instead.

Flash sale:

An intra-day sale can generate excitement if it’s generous – for example, a two-for-one sale or 40 percent off from, say, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Pick a time when the weather forecast is good. Publicize the flash sale on social media, through emails, text messages, etc. And as mentioned above, list it on you sandwich chalkboard.

Free food:

Nothing packs them in like free food and refreshments. If your store happens to sell snacks, you can use your own inventory for the promotion. Or you can do a cross-promotion with your neighborhood bakery or coffee house. It doesn’t have to be fancy, because the great masses just can’t turn down free food. Hot coffee on a cold day, lemonade on a hot one, Danish on any day – customers and potential customers will enjoy your generosity and might be more willing to buy something from you.

Mobile push:

Double down on your mobile market apps (you use these, don’t you?) to push messages to consumers in the neighborhood who might want to drop into your store while out and about. The message can include a promo code for a special discount or free gift.

Entertain the kids:

A great way to gain the loyalty of local parents is to offer free, supervised entertainment to young kids so that mom or dad can do a little quality shopping. The area can have games, books, a play table, even a balloon-blowing clown. If you run a country store, how about setting up a small petting zoo – you might even be able to charge entry. Make sure you use trustworthy, preferably bonded, employees to mind the kids, and keep your liability insurance up to date. Offer special discounts to parents who bring in their children, that should really heat up sales.

Loyalty:

Many stores have adopted loyalty programs – have you? There are many off-the-shelf programs you can adopt, and the cost is usually low relative to the bump in sales. On a slow day, your flash sale might be triple points for a few hours.

Contests:

We all love to win. Thrill your customers by having daily raffles and contests. For instance, if you are a florist, elicit poems for specific purposes, such as get well or anniversaries. The best poem gets a discount coupon for future use. You can tie this into your email lists (after all, you have to notify winners), which is marketing gold that pays off many times the costs of the contests.

Revamp your website:

If your website has gone a little stale, it’s time to refresh it. There are many techniques to increase website traffic, including fresh and frequent blogging. If you don’t have time to write new content yourself, hire a good freelance writer and flood the zone with interesting stories.

We’ve listed a few good ideas, but there are plenty more out there – use your imagination and, with any luck, you’ll be swarming with new customers before you know it. If you need additional working capital to put these ideas in action, reach out to one of our Loan Officers to see if a business loan is right for your company.

How to Make your Retail Store Stand Out From the Masses

If you believe that you have something truly unique and beneficial to offer your clients, but you simply can’t seem to get anyone to walk through your store’s doors, you are not alone. Many small business owners complain that their brick-and-mortar location stands empty, and they simply don’t have the skills required to attract customers. The problem is that competition from other retail locations and online e-commerce sites is high, and it’s often hard, although not impossible, to set your store apart from the competition. Read below to learn new ways of getting your store noticed and increasing sales!

Get to Know Your Community

The target audience for a retail store is typically the local neighborhood, so getting to know your community is the best way to increase brand recognition. Strategies to make this happen include sponsoring little league games, school fundraisers or local charities. If you are able to create a poster or put your name on sports jerseys, you will create great marketing materials for your store.

Another way to get to know your community is to encourage your staff to volunteer for local causes. Consider setting up a beautification event for a community park or garden or a clean up event at a nearby beach. You can advertise in the local paper, hand out flyers or geo-target your neighbors through online advertising.

When you help your community, the residents don’t just learn about your business, but they want to thank you for your contributions by shopping at your store.

Create a Loyalty Program

Once a customer has visited your store once, do you have a strategy in place to keep them coming back? One way to encourage customer loyalty is with a customized reward program. This can include punch cards or a points system where you offer your customers discounts, extras or freebies for making purchases within your store.

Ice cream and coffee shops are great examples of businesses that can implement a punch card as part of their customer loyalty strategy. When a customer makes a certain number of purchases, they get a free item. A clothing boutique can utilize a points system that rewards shoppers with discounts or exclusive promotions once they have spent a certain amount, such as “10% off your next purchase once you spend $250 or more.”

Research the Competition

Finally, if you want to set your store apart from the masses, you need to know what they are offering. Make it your mission to visit your competitors within a certain distance, such as 10 miles, observe their offerings and customer service and write down thoughts about your experience.

This will provide you with an opportunity to see what things other business owners are doing right, and what you can incorporate into your own operations, and also to see what can be improved, and offer that to your customers!

You may require financial help should you choose to sponsor a local event, cause or charity or offer new services or products to your clients to help you stand apart from the competition. IOU Financial is prepared to finance your goals with a small business loan up to $300,000 in under 48 hours. Call us today!