CLAYTON -- Downtown businesses hoping for a leg up in attracting more customers need look no further than the Downtown Development Association’s new webinar series.
After a spring survey of downtown businesses found that 52 percent of respondents said they would like to see an increase in customers and foot traffic, the DDA’s Economic Restructuring Committee chose to sponsor a series of webinars that should help them do just that.
“We want to help strengthen our existing retail businesses so they can expand and become more successful in order to attract more retail opportunities to downtown,” said Debbie Austermuehle, Chair of the CDDA’s Economic Restructuring Committee, and the owner of two downtown businesses.
The webinars are hosted by Jon Schallert, an expert on helping independent businesses become what he calls “consumer destinations.” Attendees will get to watch five Schallert videos that narrow in on how to build customer traffic, including how to spotlight products, take advantage of festival traffic, and how to target profitable customers.
After seeing Schallert speak in Wake Forest in 2010, Downtown Development Coordinator Bruce Naegelen said he and other business owners were impressed with his philosophy and his track record. He is hoping to get a group together to attend one of Schallert’s boot camps out in Colorado where he’s based.
But for now, the webinars are something they can take advantage of right here in town. Business owners will meet for these “Tuesday Tune-ups” every Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. at Sherry’s Signature Cheesecakes until Oct. 16 to watch a 20-25 minute video and discuss their ideas about how to implement Schallert’s strategies at their own businesses.
Time for a visit
It’s also a chance for business owners to get to know each other and network. If downtown businesses can frequent each other’s businesses and promote each other, they can help each other improve customer traffic.
“Why not just kinda get some folks together, get folks a chance to meet each other downtown. They’re so busy they don’t get to meet people from other side of downtown,” Naegelen said.
Naegelen said he’s a fan of Schallert’s philosophies for how businesses can become a “destination business.”
“Basically it means people coming to your business because you have something that’s unique, that’s different, that attracts them, whatever that may be,” Naegelen said.
Business owners will learn how product placement and the arrangement of their stores help attract customers and help them find what they want more easily. They’ll also learn how to pick out what Schallert calls “profitable customers,” or those who are willing to spend more and are likely to come back.
One major piece to the puzzle, Naegelen said, is helping business owners pinpoint what’s unique about their business and then how to capitalize on that.
“Even if you’re selling widgets and everybody else is selling widgets, what makes your widgets different from other people’s? Part of that is how you display them, how they’re located in your store, and how you operate as well,” Naegelen said.
The goal is to have another round of these webinar viewings for folks that couldn’t make it this time, as well as expand into other topics that business owners might be interested in.