NEW Normal

Leslie Lyon

Many have become more conscious about spending, not necessarily because they have to, but because they feel less secure about the future.   There’s much talk about the “New Normal”- what exactly does it mean to your business?  Use your five senses to identify your new normal.

1.  WHO is your new customer?
Your new customer requires “emotional engagement”, because the importance of the experience now outweighs the importance of the purchase.  This means you are now more dependent on your staff than ever before.  In fact, perhaps staff is your new, most important customer.  The power of the individual, not only means the consumer’s increased ability to drive economic decisions, but it also represents your staff’s ability to actively participate in the (possible) restoration and growth of your client base.  Your attention to your staff needs must ramp up, NOW.   Do not underestimate this critical part of the New Normal.   

2.  WHAT does your client need now?
Two points prevail:  #1 – A revolution in values; #2 –Convenience and time management.

i)  A Revolution in Values – Service will undoubtedly be your key competitive asset in both of these categories; but the adaptation of stronger belief systems related to ethical and emotionally based choices may force you to re-evaluate your business strategies as a whole; not only in your staffing plans, but including your purchasing and operational plans.

ii)  Convenience and Time Management - Provide your clients with time saving service and shopping solutions to help them get to their next task quicker, and their next appointment, on time.  Never frenzied, but always efficient. Depending on your situation, consider these points instead of, OR in addition to traditional methods:  Self-serve bars and services; new “3-in-1 multi-technician services” (the works in an hour); expanded “On the Go-Go” (mini) service menu.  And think “speed shopping”:  Re-visit service and product bundling; direct your shoppers to items under $20; $50; and $100; have a “Top 10 Must-Haves” checkout section.  

3.  WHERE should you direct your attention?
Supporting your brand with new integration strategies, such as stronger in-store advertising campaigns, will expand and diversify your existing client’s purchasing decisions.  Focus on cross promotion; up-selling; and add-on selling through repetitive exposure on multiple levels and stages.  Consider polarizing your choices from mid-level services and price points, to budget and luxury only, and monitor results.  (Remember the hourglass shaped economy model is morphing into the pyramid shaped economy model). 

 4.  WHEN can you feel better about the future?
NOW, because your downsizing (or restraints) over the recent past have empowered you and your staff.  Cost-cutting may have improved your profitability; forced you to acquire increased levels of skill development; making you more indispensable; and providing you with industry influence.  Opportunities abound if you are only prepared to enjoy your new-found potential.

5.  WHY are your old ways no longer effective?
Not only have there been radical changes in personal priorities; there have been radical changes in business, and it’s called diversification.  Your near-term survival is important, and I’m going to assume your long-term survival is too.  Retailers are becoming suppliers; and suppliers are becoming retailers.  As suppliers move ever closer to the consumer, so must you find ways to supply bigger business.  Your focus, if not global, must at least be larger in scale. Your ability to diversify and develop off-shoots of your business may be your saving grace. 

Your job:  Integrate new strategies and diversify revenue streams that will ensure your growth into the future. 

Your 6th Sense:
In this case, it’s not intuitive; magical, or even spiritual, it’s just three facts: Prioritize; Focus; and Commit.  You’ve heard me say it before; these are always the primary ingredients that are missing in the struggle for success.  Just remember:  DON’T take it on unless you are fully committed; DON’T ask for advice or assistance from anyone who is not fully committed; and most importantly; DON’T underestimate what fully committed really means.

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