Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tip #326: Show Your Customers Some Love with Inexpensive Customer Appreciation Ideas

Customers are essential to any business. Finding ways to make them feel valued is key to creating return customers and champions for your business. Below we’ve shared five easy and inexpensive customer appreciation ideas to show your customers some love today.

Choose a Customer of the Day
Use the element of surprise to delight your customers. Use your POS system or an old-school tally counter to identify your 10th customer and surprise them with one of your signature products for free or a discount on their purchase. Post a photo of the lucky winner on social media to drive in-store traffic. Let customers know they’re just as appreciated during busy holidays as they are on a random Tuesday.

Think of the kids
Being part of an industry that relies heavily on gifting holidays, consider ways to cater to shoppers with kids. By simply creating a space for kids to color and enjoy a snack, parents will be able to shop more privately for Christmas/Valentine’s Day/Easter gifts in peace. Share photos of the space on social media with details on what parents can expect and watch as grateful parents thank you with their business.

Bon Bon's Candy House created this space for kids to color and enjoy snacks
while grateful parents shopped for their Easter gifts in peace.
Send a handwritten thank you card
It may be old school, but a thoughtful handwritten note is one of the easiest and inexpensive ways to show you care. If you have access to your customers’ mailing addresses through a loyalty program or corporate accounts, consider making it a habit each week to mail a few handwritten notes to your customers. Try to make it personal or include a coupon to use on their next visit. You may be surprised how much of an impact this simple act of kindness will make.

Train your team to call customers by their first name
Calling customers by their first name makes their shopping experience personal. Train your staff to look for customers’ first names on their credit card and, then, call customers by name when thanking them for their purchase. Over time, staff are more likely to remember repeat customers and will be able to recall their names without even looking.

Say “thanks” with a video
A study by TD Banks revealed, more than 80% of customers like getting thanked in person. Since this isn’t always possible, a thank-you video from you may be the next best (and certainly memorable) option. If you request data, like customer birthdays, consider creating an email template with a video or GIF (create your own GIFs with the app, Giphy Cam) of you wishing customers a happy birthday and send it to a group of customers who all share the same birthday month. Even though it’s a template, the message will feel more personal and special with a video coming from you.

Buffer is a social media management business that used this fun GIF
to thank customers for their business.

You don't have to wait for Customer Appreciation Day on April 18 to celebrate your customers. That's why we've shared ideas easy enough to start incorporating into your business today or any day. How do you show your customers you care? Share in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Throwback Tip #312: 4 Ways Distributors Can Help Your Business

Have you ever wondered if working with a distributor would benefit your candy business? In this week’s post, RCI member Chris Romocean, with Linnea’s Candy Supplies, sheds light on a distributor’s role, as well as some of the ways a good distributor can offer value to confectioners.

Manufacturers are not always able to service every customer as well as they would like and that’s where distributors can help. Whether due to a manufacturer's geographic location in relation to their customers or their ability to help with the administration of sales, customer service, inventory and logistics, having distributors lets a manufacturer do what it does best. Make product. To be successful, a distributor needs to add value to the products it sells.

Manufacturer’s lead times can be difficult for confectioners to contend with, especially during holiday seasons. Lead times can be anywhere from several days to several weeks. A distributor usually has product in inventory available for immediate order fulfillment.

A distributor should have a wide range of products that complement each other and meet the needs of confectioners. Having the ability to combine products from various manufacturers all in one shipment can significantly reduce shipping costs. Product bundling also saves time. Placing one order is much faster than placing several.

For many confectioners having a lower minimum order means they can order the quantities they need, not the quantities they have to. Requirements for precious storage space are reduced and their cash is not tied up in excess inventory.

The burden of keeping a large inventory is shifted to the distributor allowing confectioners to use just-in-time strategies and smaller orders on a more frequent basis.

There is a misconception that prices from a distributor will always be higher than buying direct from the manufacturer. Many distributors have prices that are comparable and sometimes lower than buying direct from a manufacturer. Distributors purchase products in large quantities from manufacturers and get discounts based on large volume orders or quantities committed to by contract. With this discount, a distributor can offer products at competitive prices.

Another misconception is that if a customer stops buying from a manufacturer and gets their products through a distributor; they are not as important to the manufacturer and will lose contact with them. While it is true the distributor will be assuming the customer service role, the manufacturer’s technical support, expertise and knowledge will always be available either through the distributor or directly. Manufacturers value their customers and want them to be successful whether they buy direct or through a distributor.

Distributors are faced with many challenges. Being able to accurately forecast, not only levels of inventory for thousands of products, but also planning for lead times and the logistics involved in replenishment is critical for a distributor’s success and the success of its customers. Good communication with the manufacturer and the confectioner is vital.

Another challenge is being efficient at getting products to customers fast, especially during the busiest parts of the year. A distributor needs to have a great team working together from the time the order is placed until it reaches the customers door.

In today’s business environment, now more than ever, a distributor creates value for manufacturers and confectioners alike.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.