Stop waiting for business: How to fast-track your sales

Monday, July 12, 2021

“I love waiting in long lines”

...said no one ever.

People hate to wait. And when high wait times interrupt their meal, shopping trip or another otherwise enjoyable event, they leave with (best case) a sour taste in their mouth or (worst case) a negative review and vow to never return.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the parts of your business directly tied to revenue (margin, marketing ROI, average ticket value…) that you forget to pay attention to everyday things like reducing lines at your store and wait times in your restaurant. People have just come to expect them, right?

Wrong. We should never ask patience of our customers. As our business’ stewards, we owe them timely and memorable service.

On the other hand, you don’t like waiting either. You’re an entrepreneur: You don’t have time to wait for customers to find you, to make a purchase, to return. And we don’t blame you!

Let’s kill the waiting game once and for all. We want to help you speed up the entire sales process, from attracting the right customers to converting and retaining them. We’ll teach you how to speed up their experience as well. You can’t have one without the other.

 



Consider the pace of your business. On a macro level, your pace is how quickly you’re getting a new customer, selling to them and exciting them enough to come back a second time. On a micro level, it’s how quickly they’re being served.

When these work in harmony, you’ll see higher profits and more loyalty. As you grow, you’ll have a repeatable process to replicate in future locations.

We’re going to start with the big picture and then zoom in. Cutting corners won’t do you any favors here, but we promise the benefits are worth it.

Optimize and speed up the customer journey with these 7 steps:

  1. Understand what the cycle looks like. Typically, that’s:

    • Attract target customers

    • Nurture them to consideration

    • Influence their decision

    • Secure their purchase

    • Inspire repeat visits



  2. Use this free template to outline your unique customer journey as it stands today. Mark the people, business and technology process used at each stage. For example, you might use Instagram ads to attract customers and influencers to move them to consideration. A knowledgeable staff member and efficient checkout experience will secure their purchase. A post-purchase email can incentivize a repeat visit.

  3. Mark the length of time customers wait at each stage. Think specifically, like the time from deciding they’ll visit your restaurant to how long it takes to get a reservation. How long will they wait in line to check out? When will they get an email with a special offer after joining your loyalty program?

  4. Write the shortest, longest and average wait time for each stage.

  5. Set a goal for what you think those wait times should be.

  6. Survey your customers: Do they agree with your existing and target wait times?

  7. Decide how you’ll improve wait times at each stage. We’ll help you with that part too — read on!

     



Put your plan into action

Now that you have a good picture of your current wait times throughout the sales cycle, it’s time to optimize them. “Optimize” is a popular buzzword, but what does it look like in practice for small businesses? Here are a few ideas:

  • Leverage well-timed marketing strategies

    • Use social media and post consistently. Show followers exactly what they’ll get in doing business with you

    • Invest in digital ads

    • Confirm that Google Maps, Yelp and other navigation apps accurately list your address, hours and contact information

    • Set up automated, targeted email marketing

    • Design a clean, quick-loading website. Make pricing and inventory or menu items easy to find

  • Use your team strategically

    • Report on your highest trafficked days and times, and staff to meet that demand

    • Train your employees to “own their zone,” so you have enough coverage in the right places

    • Assign a bar back to the waiting area to bring guests drinks before they get to their table

    • Set up a line buster and use mobile payment terminals to speed up checkout

  • Invest in technology to speed up transactions

    • Use a cloud point of sale so you aren’t slowed down by clunky servers and can easily open new stations during peak times

    • Accept contactless payments

    • Offer email receipts

    • Choose a POS with a built-in or integrated loyalty program

    • Secure a backup internet source in the event of an outage

In applying these, focus on a single stage of the journey for 2-3 months. Avoid changing everything at once. That can backfire and won’t provide clear indication of what precisely is working. As you move through each step of the cycle, survey your customers again. How are their impressions shifting with each change you make?

 



Watch the pieces fall into place

Success looks different across industries and unique businesses, but here’s one example of a successful outcome at each stage:

  • Attract + consider: Your online presence is on point. People know who you are, and they choose to try your business without hesitation.

  • Decide: They already have an idea of what they want to order based on what they’ve seen on social media or your website.

  • Buy: Secure payments and mobile point of sale technology make the order and checkout process quick and seamless.

  • Return: They received a voucher for 10% off their next purchase for signing up for your loyalty program. They have an incentive to come back, and they want to. Their experience was quick, painless and memorable.

Now you’re turning more tables per shift or moving more inventory per day, and that will have a considerable impact when you spread those incremental gains across the entire year. And the more customers you bring in and the faster you turn them over, the more profit you’ll see. Want proof? Who doesn’t?

 



Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs)

“Proof” means different things to different businesses. Identifying your KPIs is a necessary first step when it comes to evaluating your success.

KPIs can be things like conversion rate, retention rate, average ticket value — the list goes on. Make sure you’re collecting and reporting on this data in your point of sale so you can track the impact of your changes. Anecdotal improvement via your customers is great, but numbers don’t lie.

Data-backed business growth also serves as motivation for staff. Hold team meetings and share KPIs with them. Celebrate wins, share updates of how you got there and brainstorm how you can continue improving. Set goals as a group. Make them timebound and share progress updates to keep your staff inspired and on track.

 

We also know you hate wasting time with slow technology

Schedule a quick (we mean it!) call or demo with one of our experts to learn about how Heartland products are an important piece in your business optimization puzzle.

And if you haven’t tuned into our Unstuck Playbook course, we hope you’ll give it a peek. It’s full of training videos, our Growth Hacks Guide and other how-to’s like this one. Small businesses (like yours!) are seeing results in as little as one week.