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My top tips on how to beat the downturn

Since opening lifestyle indie Number 8 in Stirling, Scotland, I’ve seen consistent rises in turnover, month by month, of between 30% and 85%.

Since opening lifestyle indie Number 8 in Stirling, Scotland, I’ve seen consistent rises in turnover, month by month, of between 30% and 85%. The latter was achieved last December and we are still seeing exceptional rises. So I thought I’d share my top tips on beating the downturn:

1 Analyse market conditions and ensure your prices are competitive. Sometimes you must accept lower margins.

2 Stop all marketing that isn’t working. The most cost-effective marketing consists of building up a customer database and targeting those customers.

3 Make sure you are online - this is essential for survival.

4 Provide exceptional customer service - the customer isn’t king, he’s God.

5 Look six months ahead and don’t overbuy in stock. Stock is cash. Retailers need to tailor their stock and cut back for lowered volumes in the high street next year.

6 Think of complementary activities to encourage new customers as well as increase visits by existing ones, such as open evenings, season launches and so on.

7 Rebrand. If your current business image is beginning to look tired, a rebrand may be the answer to create interest and motivate your team.

8 Look at smaller cost implications - what can you strip out of the business? Do you need three phone lines? Can you get by with fewer staff?

9 Look at the main costs. Can you reduce your biggest outgoings, namely rent and rates? Rentals have fallen 30% in many areas and landlords will work with tenants to avoid empty units. You will then have a good case to approach your local council to lower your rates.

10 Talk to people. Other businesses are often willing to share their ideas and success stories.

Keith Ewing is director of lifestyle independent Number 8 in Stirling, Scotland

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