Business slow? Want to increase sales but nothing seems to work? Well, you are not alone. Almost all businesses experience a bit of a slump at the moment. Most of them blame the poor economy for the problems
they face and you are free to join them but before you do, consider this: It might make you feel good for a while but where will it get you in the end?

Fortunately, there is a better way: Take a step back, assess the situation with a clear eye then rev matters up a bit where it matters most. To get you off to a good start, we have put together five tips you might want to take into consideration. Take this seriously and you’ll be amazed by the results you can achieve without having to spend much, if any, money.

1 Approach the business with an outsiders’ eye
Literally walk out of the business, take a few steps, then turn around and look at your business with a fresh eye. What do you see?
• Does the area around the entrance to your store look inviting, no rubbish lying around?
• Are shop signs and windows clean and in a good state of repair?
• Windows free of unauthorised and/or outdated posters?
• Are external promotional posters and blackboards (if used) up to date?

2 Enter the store and observe
• Is the entire store clean and inviting, particularly but not only the entrance/cashier area and all food displays?
• Are staff working in the front area of the store welcoming/greeting customers?
• Are promotional posters and other in-store marketing materials up to date and in good condition?
• Do promotional displays look inviting?
• Are the isles between shelfs and fridges kept clean and free of used packaging materials and other hindrances?
• Are shelves well stocked and clearly price-marked?
• Are FIFO-principles applied throughout?
• Are cross-selling principles applied where appropriate?

3 Build relationships
• Talk to customers. Try to find out how they feel about shopping at your store and what you could do to improve their shopping experience. Granted, some of their suggestions/requests may be impractical but overall, you’ll be amazed at what you learn.
• Recognise regulars. Try to find out their personal circumstances (without appearing nosy) and make appropriate recommendations.
• Never forget to ask regulars to recommend your store to their
• On occasion, make it worth their while by presenting them with a small gift.
• If a customer tells you about a forthcoming local community event,
assess the viability of the brand becoming involved. (Before you do this, discuss it with your area manager.)

4 Cleanliness and hygiene
• Are cleaning and maintenance principles as prescribed in the cleaning manual applied in all parts of the store?
• Are hygiene principles as prescribed in the operations manual adhered to, especially but not only by butchery staff?
• Are prescribed hygiene records kept up to date?

5 Evaluate your staff’s performance
• We are not talking about formal performance evaluations here; we are merely recommending that you pay attention to what’s really going on in your store on a daily basis.
• Overall staff appearance – are the prescribed uniform items worn with pride?
• Staff attendance and performance patterns: Identify habitual latecomers and under-performers and work with them towards acceptable performance.
• Are those working in customer areas, including but not only cashiers and shelf packers, responsive to customers’ needs?
• Do staff members, especially but not only those interacting with customers, display passion for what they are doing?
• Do any staff members appear to exert a negative influence on others?
(Identify them and work with them to help them improve their attitude.)
• Think about those members of staff who have been with you for a year or more. Do any of them show potential for growth? If so, ask yourself: How can this be utilised for mutual benefit? (Promotion from within helps to retain good staff and is good for staff morale.)

This is a very short list of issues you could – and should – take under the microscope. Many others deserve consideration but start small and chances are that you’ll see an almost immediate positive impact on sales
and store profitability.