Now that the summer season has officially begun, Business Beats would like to offer an alphabetical list of things for businesses to consider adding or trying out this season. Being a big fan of making things simple, here are some simplified summer business basics to build on.
A is for Attitude Adjustment. Business owners and residents need to mentally prepare for the increase of traffic, wait times, etc. Embrace the sometimes unpleasant activities that allow our region to gain financially.
B is for Business. Mind your own business, and let others do the same. Take time to measure profitability and handle challenges during the season. Manage operations and make corrections as needed.
C is for Customer Focus. Everyone who enters your establishment or utilizes your services should have your undivided attention. Listen and do your best to meet the needs and wants of the customer.
D is for Design and Develop. It is extremely hard to create or accomplish goals without a plan. Draw a picture, map it out or write it down. Then act on the plan or vision of a better summer season.
E is for Expectations. Be extremely realistic in what you expect to do this summer.
F and G are for Fun and Games. Most people, especially the customers who visit our region, like to have fun and win. Games can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make them (be sure they are legal) and prizes can be as small or as large as you would like to offer. It comes down to playing, having fun and winning.
H is for Hope (Not Despair). There will be both sunny and rainy days ahead this season. Understand that even the most threatening of storm clouds may contain a silver lining. Be hopeful.
I is for Inventory. Take a look at what you are offering. If you find your inventory is stale or looks the same, it may be time to freshen up the mix, reorganize your store and change out displays.
J is for Join In. Everyone is very busy this time of year, but budget time if possible to be a part of the community events and happenings. The more your community recognizes you, the more they will be willing to patronize and support your business year-round.
K is for Kids. If you can make the children happy, you will make the parents even happier. Parents are willing to go the extra mile to create wonderful memories for their children. Be a part of these magic memories by including some family fun in your offering.
L is for Loyal Customers. Statistics show it is less expensive and much easier to keep a good customer coming back than to attract a new one. Any offers you make to new or first time customers should include a component that "thanks" existing customers as well.
M is for Music. It would not be a Business Beats column without a reference to music. Live and recorded music help to create a communal feeling and a place people will gravitate toward. If you have the option to mix in a little live music in your place of business, do so. Just make sure the music does not overpower customer interactions.
N is for New Products and New Services. Revisit the industry and suppliers that you have been working with and try to identify new products or best practices (from other areas) that you can incorporate into your business.
O is for Opportunities. The thousands of visitors and potential customers to our region present opportunities. You need to do what you can to turn the opportunities into a profitable and sustainable business model.
P is for Pageant Preparation. She's back! We all have the chance to make a second first impression with a renewed commitment to an iconic event that helped to put our region in the national spotlight. We have a little time to prepare for Miss America's return. The Greater Atlantic City Region is getting ready and as retailers, service providers and those interacting with contestants, guests and media, we need to get ready to shine in that spotlight.
Q is for Quick Responses. Act quickly and efficiently in response to customer phone calls, e-mails, requests and suggestions. You may not get it right every time, but acting quickly shows a willingness to meet customer needs.
R is for Recovery, Relief and Resources. Recovery from Hurricane Sandy is complete for some, but the economic effects are still being felt. Do what you can to maintain a balance of recovery and forward movement in all areas of your business. Resources are still available to assist you.
S is for Strategy. Creating and utilizing a strategy for the summer season can be done by combining past information, present business climate and some future projecting. The resulting strategy and plans can help create executable actions plans. Again, adjust as needed.
T is for Time. Saving the time of your customers and yourself can be a big factor in a successful season. Following some of these suggestions may help everyone to get the most out of our valuable and limited time this summer.
U is for Unique Experiences. Social media worthy events, discovering something new, having an amazing meal, meeting new people, finding that perfect take-home gift or just stumbling on the perfect place to rest and relax. Whatever helps make the visitors' and residents' experience unique is worth working into your business plans.
V is for Vacations. The people who visit our region are choosing to spend their vacation time and vacation dollars with us. Think about what you would want to do or where you would choose to spend your vacation time and dollars if you were going on vacation. Most importantly consider how you want to be treated while on a vacation.
W is for Water Activities. Few other destinations have all that we have to offer. Our dining, entertainment, shopping mix is perfectly complemented by our access to ocean, bay, river and lake activities. Embrace the life and business economy sustaining properties of water.
X is for Multiply (X) Your Efforts By Working Together. Find creative ways to leverage existing and new business relationships. Noncompeting businesses that serve similar markets and demographics can and should at times work cooperatively with each other on marketing, promotions, events, etc.
Y is for You. You are the only thing standing between implementing or putting these ideas into action or not doing so.
Z is for ZZZs. Sleep, or more likely the lack of sleep, during the summer season is something we all need to address. Attempting to squeeze as many quality sales into the season as possible can make rest seem less important. Find the healthy balance, and try to delegate.
I hope you enjoyed and can utilize some of these Business Beats of summer. I know our guests and customers visiting the region this season will appreciate the extra effort.
Joe Molineaux, director of the Small Business Development Center at Richard Stockton College, can be reached at MxBusinessBeats@gmail.com.