In September of 2005 our company sponsored a survey of small businesses in the service areas. The purpose of the survey was to ask the business owners, many of them franchise owners, what their significant business hurdles were. The key areas of the survey were customers, growth, technology and research, and employees. You can see the complete results here.
There are many things to be learned by studying the results that you can see here, and I hope you'll find them interesting and helpful. It will probably come as no surprise that the common problems facing service businesses are:
- Finding new customers does not occur fast enough
- Growth of revenue is also not as fast as desired
- Cutting through the advertising chaos to reach customers is difficult
- The internet is providing little benefit to small businesses
- Issues regarding costs and working capital are also significant.
No real surprises but it does highlight the need that small business owners have to gain new customers and get the ones they have to purchase more often. Doesn't that solve most, if not all, of the issues they identified?
The question is how to do it. Our suggestion?
The internet provides a powerful tool for communication and advertising that small business and franchise owners aren't using enough or effectively for marketing. It's called "internet marketing" or "online marketing" and it can include "email marketing". It's likely that small business owners don't know how to use internet marketing as the internet is seen as a big nebulus thing with no tie to location and most small businesses are tied to one location.
The business principles we espouse, regardless of the vehicle used to enact them, are:
- Making our businesses remarkable by taking great care of customers
- Listening to and acting on what they have to tell us
- Giving them a megaphone to tell their friends and colleagues.
It's a simple formula for success and it works. The internet provides a very inexpensive and effective means of doing so when you use the right software tools.