- Significant declines in sales figures are sometimes out of a company's control if a recession hits.
- Changing your sales strategy and becoming more customer service-oriented can help declining sales.
- Rebranding and new marketing initiatives are strategies to reinvigorate your sales departments.
Marble Slab Creamery has been in business for 32 years and has locations in more than 15 countries worldwide. To reach this level of greatness, we had to learn how to adapt at the first sign of trouble.
One such instance occurred about two years ago. For roughly five years, we experienced a significant decline in sales. We knew that we had to do something to turn our business around, but what?
Reasons for a decline in sales
In some cases, the reasons for the decline in sales are attributed to sales team issues. Not hiring the right sales associates or not providing them with training opportunities are detrimental to your bottom line. Another issue could be you're not attracting the right talent. Poor compensation and incentive packages won't help your HR department secure top sales associates. Keep in mind that associates aren't always to blame for personnel problems decreasing sales. Changes in senior management could also be to blame.
Many people may have found themselves in a similar predicament, especially after the recession. So how do you combat declines in sales when the economy is to blame? To help answer this question for your business, we're going to tell you how we completely turned our sales around in just two short years.
Improving customer service, improving sales
To increase sales, we set our sights on becoming better than our competition by improving the overall customer experience. In The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk states:
You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard. You have to make them feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob's shop or bought her new hat, and you need to make people who aren't your customers wish they were.
Yet, how exactly do you make every customer feel special? One way is to make them feel like they are getting a special deal every time they walk into your store. To do this, we first restructured our pricing so that our customers felt as if they were getting more value than what they were paying for.
Value through pricing
We didn't just slash prices in a panic like most businesses. Instead, we thought about how we could bring more value to the customer through the way we priced our products. That may sound absurd at first, but let me explain.
Like many other ice cream shops, we previously weighed each customer's ice cream to determine the price. The more toppings a customer added to their ice cream, the more it weighed and the more it cost. However, customers innately bought fewer toppings because they didn't want to spend more money, leaving them slightly disappointed with their purchase.
To provide more value to the customer through pricing, we decided to introduce our unlimited mix-ins campaign. Instead of paying more from the weight of each topping, customers now only pay a flat rate based on the size of the ice cream cup. This lets customers get all of the toppings they want without worrying about the price, leaving our customers more satisfied than ever with their purchase.
After the success of restructuring prices, we decided to go a step further and provide even more perceived value to the customer. Instead of charging our customers more if they wanted their ice cream in a waffle cone, we offered free fresh-baked waffle cones as part of their purchase. Everyone loves getting something for free and this drastically helped to improve each customer's experience in our stores.
Refocusing our advertising strategy
The final adjustment that we made was to focus our advertisements on how our ice cream is homemade in every store using only premium ice cream ingredients. While having a higher quality ice cream has always been a part of our business plan, many of our customers had no idea that our ice cream is freshly made right in the store. By focusing ads on our homemade quality, customers now know that our ice cream is higher quality than our competitors and they value our product more.
When customers think about our ice cream shop, they have a positive experience associated with Marble Slab Creamery. This is because they are more satisfied with flat-rate pricing and they perceive more value in our product due to free components and a higher quality product.
By increasing our value to our customers, we can better retain our customers and steal our competition's customers. In fact, more than $1.3 trillion is unclaimed each year in America due to customers switching brands, according to Accenture. Don't you want to do everything you can to drive that money towards your business?
While these strategies sound great in theory, you may question whether they have an effect on sales and can help you drive that $1.3 trillion towards your business. However, Marble Slab Creamery has proven that these strategies work. After two years of implementing these improvements, we experienced a 5.8 percent increase in same-store sales, a 4 percent increase in transactions and a 9.8 percent in average unit volumes.
Questions to ask yourself
You can see the same results by taking the same steps that we did.
Can you bring more value to your customers by restructuring prices? Can you offer a free product to increase the perceived value of your product? Is there an aspect of your product that is being overlooked and needs to be advertised?
How can you improve your customer's experience and become better than your competition?