For some months my daughter has been wanting to sell lemonade from a lemonade stand. Maybe it’s a “rite of passage” for kids. Maybe she wants to earn money. Maybe she likes business. Maybe it’s a bit of everything.
We were in the hot sun for 3 hours and made about $20. Not bad. Actually quite good.
Of course, if we count the time it took to get things ready (can we call this the cost of goods sold?), such as making the lemonade and grapefruit juice; getting the ice; setting up the cooler; staff (me and mom), then we didn’t do well at all.
But of course this is a LEMONADE STAND and in that case we did just fine.
What did I learn about business?
Have a variety products to serve a variety of customer types
An older lady came by our stand and said she would buy from us, but she can’t drink the acid. So she didn’t buy. In business, you need to know when (and when not) to expand your product line to meet a variety of customer segments.
Are you a design shop, specializing in designing clothing accessories? Maybe you should consider designing household accessories as well.
Who is the best person to sell
I wondered who would be the best person to sell our lemonade.
A cute, little girl with braids holding up a sign or a 30+ guy with a sign. I think the little girl won out. Of course my daughter couldn’t hold a sign up all day. So I held the sign up for much of the time, but made sure she was quite visible at the lemonade stand.
In your own business, this is also so important.
Do you send 27 year old Jenny? Or 46 year old Marry? Or 45 year old Bob. All three have their skills and talents to make the best sales for a particular customer. There is not ONE sales person that is necessarily the best for all times.
Of course some sales persons are BORN to sell and are overall super stars and well rounded sales professionals.
I decided to put the lemonade stand a few feet from my home, so that we could be in a place where cars could easily drive up, drivers could get out and make their purchase with ease.
In business location is so important. McDonald’s and other retailers spend lots of money picking out the optimal location for their establishments. Online, location is important as well – in the form of search engine placement. If you are on page 5 of a search query, you’re not going to be found. You want to ensure that when the keywords that are important to you that are searched, you appear on the FIRST page of results. Preferably towards the top.
In my neighborhood there area lot of garage and yard sales. Often times, the signs announcing the sale are so small you can only see them as your car is just passing by and then it’s too late.
Ideally the sign should be seen for several feet before you even get to the sign so you determine if you want to slow down and turn left (or right, etc) to go to the sale!
In our lemonade stand we made two signs. Both easily visible from several feet away! I think this boosted sales.
In your business, this means your marketing collateral – business card, web site, everything – must be as well designed as possible.
Never run out of products to sell
We had lemonade and grapefruit juice. The lemonade, by far, was the clear winner. Guess what, we ran out. We could have lost some sales, but people quite readily bought the grapefruit juice as a replacement.
Make sure you know your inventory and can predict sales. If you have a popular product that’s selling well, you don’t want to run out of it. Your customers might not come back. Remember, online, the competitor is only a click away. Selling offline? The principle is the same.
Browsers and Buyers
We had some people coming by our lemonade stand who did not buy.
Bottom line, for your business? Make sure you do what you can to turn browsers into buys. Capture their contact information (my next lesson). Interact with the customer and find out what would turn them into a buyer. Maybe it’s simply not the right time for them, but they’ll purchase later. Browsers don’t make money. Only buyers.
Many times customers are not ready to buy at the time they stop by your store, or visit you online. Even after they do purchase, don’t you want repeat customers. It is so important that you have a system in place to capture leads and market. This system should also enable you to profile customers (their contact information and other information to help you better know about the customer).
We knew that lemonade was a BIG seller. We could see the sales results. In your business but instinct will only take you so far and could be wrong.
MEASURE your actions so you know what works and what doesn’t. It makes no sense (cents as well) to spend $5,000 on an online marketing campaign and not know how well it did or did not work. You want to be able to refine your marketing and make the next spend better.
Metrics goes for EVERYTHING – employee morale; employee productivity; sales forecasts; measure everything you can so you can better grow and manager your business.
I learned the importance of sales training in a business by teaching my daughter HOW to sell and interact with customers so she could get MORE sales. Do you train your employees in software? in sales? in customer support. Don’t just throw employees somewhere and expect them to perform. Train them and they’ll not only perform, but they’ll perform well.