Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. So much for Black Friday, today is Small Business Saturday. I hope you’re ready to take advantage of all the hype that has been generated on your behalf. Do you have signs and posters displayed to promote Shop Small? Have you put special pricing on popular items to celebrate today? Is your staff ready? Is your website ready? Are you ready to capture customer information so you can maintain contact through your newsletter and/or blog throughout the year? As a small business owner, you want your firm to be the go-to resource for your customers, the place they’ll turn to whenever they need a certain product or service. To achieve that, you have to develop their loyalty. If they want it and you don’t have it, make arrangements to get it for them in time to give as a gift.

Customers always want to feel valued, and know that their needs will receive special attention. But, building customer loyalty has become more challenging. Potential customers have easy access to information about other businesses, purchasing decisions are more price or location driven due to economic factors, and there is a greater expectation of value from any purchase.

While customers are in your store there are many things you can do to build loyalty. Many should be part of your day-to-day operations. Make contact with the folks that visit your establishment, in person and online. Get to know them. A simple “thank-you for your business” will go a long way. Learn how to keep in contact with them even if you can’t satisfy their needs today. Send a personalized thank-you note, it’s easy in the digital age if you have their contact information. Don’t use a form letter; think about what those customers needed, and let them know you appreciate their business. If your best efforts fall short and a customer goes elsewhere, learn from the experience. Ask the customer how you can improve for their next visit. If there’s something you can change or improve, do so. Use that input to better serve the customers you have, and those hope to attract in the future.

If you blog or send an e-newsletter, include stories or links to topics your customers may find interesting, and will relate to your product or service. You might include incentives such as discounts or freebies for frequent customers.

Use Small Business Saturday, created just for you, to your advantage today and in the furture.

On December 7th Port Charlotte SCORE will present the seminar “Angel Investment 101: Get Ready to Pitch.” Would you like to find an angel investor? Do you understand an angel investor’s criteria for making an investment?  Do you know how to make a pitch to one? Attend the seminar to learn the answers to those questions. Also learn how you can apply to pitch in the April 2018 SW FL Venture Capital Pitch and potentially win an equity investment. The seminar presenter, Bill McCabe, coached one of the 2017 winners. The seminar will be held December 7, 2017 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 1777 Tamiami Trail, Suite 402, Port Charlotte, 33948. To register, log on to https://portcharlotte.score.org/ and select Helping Entrepreneurs.

Let me know your thoughts at eddavis@scorevolunteer.org.

Port Charlotte SCORE is a Chapter of The SCORE Association, dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses by educating and mentoring entrepreneurs. Volunteers provide confidential business advice to meet the needs of both start-up and existing entrepreneurs at no cost. Request a mentor at www.portcharlotte.score.org. Follow us on Twitter; @charlottecscore