Brown paper gift bag with a tag that reads, "support small businesses"

Should You Support Small Businesses?

The message to support small businesses seems to be everywhere these days, but where should the line be drawn?

Recently, we reached out to a boat repair company and left them a voicemail, followed by an email to see if they could do some work for us. Over a week later we still had not received a response.

Another professional was referred to us to buff out a portion of our boat. After several days, this individual finally responded and said he had taken a look at our vessel and was only willing to do the work if he could do the whole thing. We responded immediately and asked for a quote, and several days later, we still have not heard back.

This is not isolated to the boating industry. I see it everywhere.

People are angry at Amazon for doing so well through this pandemic, but, can you honestly say your small business is a viable competitor? There seems to be a sense of entitlement that says we should all be supporting small businesses, and yet, should we?

If you want your small business to thrive, you must treat your buyers the right way and be quick to respond and deliver on the goods. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere.

I experienced this first-hand last week when a client of mine, who has been doing business with us for over a year, asked for support with an online event.

We were in conversation back and forth regarding what was needed. I provided direction and guidance to them, but, I didn’t realize there was a sense of urgency around getting him pricing. When we finally sent him a quote, we were shocked to hear he had hired someone else.

It took us one week from the date we finalized the details to send pricing, and we had a verbal discussion in between.

Your buyers have a sense of urgency when it comes to buying. If you don’t match what they expect, you will lose the business.

Your buyers have a sense of urgency when it comes to buying and if you don't match what they expect, you will lose the #business. Read more: Click To Tweet

While everyone wants to support small businesses, buyers also want to know that the money they are spending during tough economic times is valued and appreciated. And, they don’t want to wait (especially when there is no communication) to find out if you can help them.

Here are seven things you should keep in mind if you’re a small business looking to inspire buyer loyalty:

  1. Make it easy to buy from you. Accept e-transfers, have online methods of payment and don’t make the process challenging for your products or services.
  1. If you’re in retail, sort out your shipping now and make it easy for your buyer. People don’t want to wait a week to find out what the cost of shipping is, or find that it costs more than the product they are buying. Christmas background with many decorative homemade gift boxes wrapped in brown kraft paper. Red white twine. Flat lay.
  1. If you’re shipping for the holidays, offer gift wrap options. Amazon does this and it’s one of the reasons I like to shop there. They make it easy for you to buy gifts and have them wrapped for when they are delivered.
  1. Proceed with expedience. Consumers don’t want to wait 3-6 weeks for their order. When it takes too long to get your product into the hands of a buyer, you look like an amateur.
  1. Don’t nickel and dime people on your merchant fees. This is the cost of doing business and should already be factored into your pricing.
  1. Respond to inquiries with a sense of urgency. If you don’t want to respond to a voicemail, don’t have one. If you never check social media, don’t have ways for people to reach you there. And, if you can’t keep up with the demand of email, hire someone to help you.
  1. Don’t be a hypocrite. If you’re a small business waving the support small businesses flag, pay attention to where you spend your money and support other local small businesses as much as you can too.

If you want people to choose you over the big online retailers, demonstrate that you can be relied upon to make the consumers’ shopping experience easy.  

#SmallBusiness owners: If you want people to choose you over the big online retailers, demonstrate that you can be relied upon to make the consumers' shopping experience easy. Read all 7 small business tips: Click To Tweet

I am all for supporting small businesses right now. I am also patient and understanding due to the circumstances many small businesses are dealing with. But, and it’s a big but, if you can’t get your act together and respond to an inquiry within 7 days, you likely don’t deserve the business.

Where do you draw the line when supporting small businesses? Let me know in the comment section below.

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