Ever deal with a bride-to-be? They aren’t kidding when it comes to those reality cable shows. Emotions are at the surface with, many decisions to make throughout the planning stages before their nuptials occur.
So, imagine the recent uproar when a fairly well-known national bridal chain filed for bankruptcy and immediately shuttered its doors. Hundreds of brides – and their wedding parties – found themselves without their Wedding Day attire. And, as panic ensued, brides searched frantically for last-minute bridal wear.
Small businesses to the rescue!
Enterprising local bridal stores immediately sprang into action, offering their services. Several bridal chains provided discounted dresses and waived rush fees. Some independent bridal shops searched for dresses from the former bridal shop or offered similar designs – promoting their services through social media outlets. Still other shops offered free bridal gowns for those getting married within a few days, asking only for a copy of their receipt and measurements.
And as this story generated headlines nationally – and attention locally – small businesses that helped out in this unfortunate bind really came away big winners.
Headlines notwithstanding, this proactive approach can apply to just about any situation when it comes to your company. It just takes a keen eye to watch for the signs:
- Going Out of Business. Be aware of colleagues in your community (or neighboring towns) who announce they are going out of business. If a colleague is truly closing their store (and not just running a big sale to move merchandise), ask if they can refer customers your way.
- Relocation. An across-town move is likely to carry customers along but, depending on how far they set up a new shop, your business may benefit from their departure. When a local stationery store lost its lease, and moved 15 miles away, area moms had to look elsewhere for back-to-school supplies. Be ready to be available.
- Retirement. Sometimes, once all that hard work has paid off, it’s time to head to the beach. Permanently. Would the owner consider a buy-out? If so, it’s an opportunity for you to expand fairly quickly. Consider that possibility in your plans for the future, and be ready to contact your real estate agent and lawyer pronto should something pop up.
Perhaps most important, when customers need immediate assistance and have no place to turn, be ready to welcome them with open arms and, if needed, sympathetic ears. You’ll be making a solid contribution to the community and building a strong reputation as a small business owner who looks after its community.