How Do You "Recession Proof" Your Business?

July 10, 2012 by  Filed under: Marketing 

Well, there are lots of things you can do, and I’m going to share one of these with you right now. It is a simple technique that you can implement immediately, which won’t cost you a penny, but could increase sales by as much as 10%, 25% or even 50%.

Do you want to know what that is? It’s simple…

… Ask someone who has just purchased something to buy something else.

Let me explain:

Take McDonald’s – what’s their catch phrase? “Would you like fries with that?” Before they introduced ‘Value Meals’ that question probably gave them an extra £300 – £400 million in sales each year worldwide. Now they say, “Would you like to go large?” (Or words to that effect).

Whatever you are selling, at the time of purchase you have an opportunity to sell something else. You have a customer, at your till, ordering something over the telephone, or buying something from your website. You do not have to spend any more money to get them there. They are a captive audience – all you have to do is ask them one simple question. “Would you like… ?”

Let me give you some examples:

    A Shell service station in Australia won a competition for selling the highest volume of engine oil. When the owner was asked how he did it he replied, “It’s easy. We say to everyone, ‘Please lift your bonnet and I’ll check your oil'”. Since RACQ research found that 75% of all cars run low on oil, that Shell service station sells lots and lots of oil which is sold at the full price – not just the average discounted petrol sale.

    What would happen if you owned a shoe store and you asked your customers as they were about to pay for their purchase… “Would you like some shoe polish with that?” If you serve 50 customers a day and only 1 customer in 5 takes you up on the offer, it means 10 extra sales. Sales you never would have had. At say £1 profit per item, you have £60 per week extra profit. That’s £3,120 per year. For one tiny item!

    Car dealers are experts at up-selling. You start with a basic £10,000 car, then you add leather seats, alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows, ABS brakes and you’ve just spent another £3,500. All in the last 10 minutes of the sale… after you’ve already signed up for the basic car! They don’t make much money on the car itself, they make it on the extras.

How can you apply this in your business?

    A clothes shop could offer another item of clothing or an appropriate accessory – for example a necklace and earring set with a pretty dress, or a tie with a shirt.

    A paint and tile shop could have a checklist of everything that would be needed to complete the job – the customer can look at it to see they’ve got everything they need. If they haven’t, where do think they’ll get it? From you of course.

    A furniture store could offer bedside cabinets with every bed, or lamps for the cabinets.

    Computer companies could up-sell a cover for the computer or a box of CDs.

    Alarm installers can have a checklist of other services the homeowner might need. Things such as fencing, carpets, landscaping. They can then refer those leads to other people for a fee or percentage of the sale.

Whatever you do, you must do it well – so that it is of service to your customer – not simply trying to sell them something. People love to buy but hate to be sold.

Give them exceptional service and they’ll love you and recommend you to all their friends – and increase your bank balance at the same time.

It amazes me every time I go to a café and order coffee, the sales assistant will ask, “Would you like anything else?” Of course my standard response is “no”. However if he/she were to say, “Would you like a cake with that? Our chocolate brownies are absolutely delicious”, I may well say, “Oh why not? Just this once”.

Look at the large national companies – supermarkets always have deals on ‘Buy one get one free’ or ‘2 for £3’. You can apply these principles on a smaller scale.

What if you don’t have a product but are offering a service? You could offer a second and third service at a slightly discounted price if the customer paid for all three in advance.

Whatever you choose, the key is to test and measure everything on a small scale first. Trial different offers, different ways of selling the extra product or service (I am partial to chocolate but I know not everyone is).

You could create a competition amongst your staff to see who could sell the most widgets during a given week or month – nothing like a bit of competition to get things moving.

When I was a student (a long time ago) I earned extra cash working in the Little Chef. They once had a competition whereby every time we sold a Prawn Cocktail we had the opportunity to win a holiday. That summer we sold a lot of Prawn Cocktails – How? We simply asked, “Would you like a Prawn Cocktail to start?”

The point is – it works. Test it and see your profits soar. Be creative in what you offer. Get your staff involved – they will love to come up with different ideas.

Your customer will feel that you care, because you are thoughtful enough to suggest something they may need.

Do let me know how you get on and how much extra profit it has made you.

Melina Abbott helps small business owners get new customers and more sales. You can download her popular free bulletin – How to Attract New Customers in 7 Easy Steps – at

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