Family Businesses Have Never Been More Vulnerable

Family businesses—the corner convenience store, the family real estate business on Main Street, the pizza shop or the bakery that’s been in town for fifty years—have generally remained stable and have found a way to overcome digital disruptions. However, times and technology are changing.

Blue sign in store window that says "Sorry, we're closed."Generational businesses that have for the most part left their practices untouched are now scrambling to compete by adopting the latest technology or by paying thousands for tools they may not even need. However, without a good partner or a trustworthy consultant at their side, this is leading to complications and challenges.

Back to Basics

This isn’t a post about why small businesses should adopt technology, or which technology they should use. Technology integration can be complicated (although we’ve written a book that can help) and if done incorrectly can sway a business away from what’s made it safe and stable all these years.

Instead, we’ve put together a list of what generational businesses can do on a base level to keep up with the changes around them. In pursuing technology and innovation, you should never sacrifice the concepts your business was built on. This comes down to the basics, to returning to what’s made generational family businesses so special: the customer experience.

Improve Transparency

Transparency is one of the most important attributes a business can take on and it’s something (thanks to the onset of social media and its ability to make everything transparent) that we’ve grown used to. We’ve dedicated entire blog posts to its importance.

Small businesses will find it simple to improve their transparency. After all, many are already well-known in the community. Here are some ways, both online and off, that businesses can take their transparency a step further:

  • Share customer satisfaction. Post reviews on your website or social media profiles. Do you get letters or emails from customers? Hang them up around your store for an added personal touch.
  • Go Mobile. Make sure your website is optimized for smartphones or tablets. Find a web design team that can help. Make it easier for customers to access your business from anytime and anyplace.
  • Promote prices, deals, and guarantees. Explain all the details, even the fine print. Be truthful and answer questions honestly.
  • Communicate with customers. Write blogs. Send out newsletters and emails. Distribute monthly mailers via snail mail. Engage with your customers, treat them like an acquaintance. Let them know what your business is up to.
  • Solicit feedback. You’ll never know how what your customers want or how they feel if you don’t give them the opportunity to tell you. Send out surveys via email. There are also some great online chatbots that businesses can add to their websites to solicit reviews, comments, and questions.

Consumers claim that transparency adds a sense of “realness” to a business. After all, it’s easy to forget that there are very real people behind a business. Small businesses have the perfect opportunity to use transparency to remind consumers that the people behind the register or in the office are not much different from them.

Embrace the Unexpected

When it comes to embracing the unexpected, family businesses are also at a unique advantage. These businesses, due to their ongoing presence in communities, have been able to build a rapport with customers, something big businesses continue to struggle with.

Customers and clients expect good service, so it’s time to focus on the unexpected and get creative.

  • Send out random “customer appreciation” codes or coupons
  • Sponsor events
  • Follow up after a customer makes a purchase, via email or phone
  • Hold giveaways or appreciation events—everyone loves free stuff
  • Mail birthday cards or discounts to customers
  • Start a loyalty card program with rewards, emails, and other discounts
  • Engage with customers on social media
  • Give back to the community that supports you by collecting money for charity or hosting donation drives in your store or office

Remind consumers and community members why they should shop with you, or why they should purchase your services. Your business can provide an experience that is more personalized, more intimate, and more engaging than larger stores can.

Safe, Stable, and Special

Small businesses should take time to return to the basics. The latest innovation is great, but not when it’s done at the expense of what ultimately matters: the customer experience.

Customers at tables at outdoor cafe.If you’re a small business looking to stay stable, reach out to our team of consultants today. They’ll work with you develop a plan that helps you make the most of technology, without sacrificing what’s made your business safe, stable, and special for generations.

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