Pamela Ellis doesn’t always have time to focus on errands like getting her oil changed or picking up the dry cleaning, so she often turns to Superior Concierge, a black-owned personal concierge company based in Sugar Land, Texas. As CEO of technology and program management firm, Smahrt Solutions Inc., Ellis has been patronizing this and many other black businesses for years.
Now, in the wake of fallout following the shootings of unarmed black men, activists have issued a call for African Americans to boycott major companies and, instead, direct their dollars to black-owned businesses. Businesses across the nation are seeing an uptick in sales, especially banks and other financial institutions.
“I have and always will seek first to support black-owned businesses. I have a true passion to see black- and women-owned businesses thrive, and I’m glad that others are starting to join in and see the value as well,” Ellis said.
With some black-owned companies gaining greater visibility, and more customers, many of them will have to make quick adjustments to accommodate the influx business. Some pundits call the switch to black business a fad that will soon fade, but Ellis believes this is an opportunity for smaller companies to possibly expand their offerings.
“I believe with increased support, we will also see an increase in the level of services or products black-owned business are able to offer, specifically in the area of financial services such as banking for start-ups and expansion businesses,” Ellis said.
So what can companies do to make this sudden spike in sales more than just a passing fad? Here are a few ways businesses can optimize this opportunity and turn temporary patrons into lifetime customers:
Just like in any new relationship, trust is a precious yet fragile thing. It’s easy to lose and hard to regain. Right now, many people mistrust law enforcement, the justice system, the media and major corporations. African Americans are searching for something they can trust – and, like it or not, your businesses is expected to be that safe haven. To build trust with new customers, you need to be consistent. Show clients what they can expect from your business every single time, and make sure your staff is on board.
Provide excellent customer service:
Make it easy for customers to let you know if there’s a problem. Whether it’s through the website, by phone, on social media or through snail mail, make sure customers know you welcome feedback that describes what’s great about your company and identifies areas where you could improve.
Own up to mistakes:
Everybody makes mistakes, right? It’s how you handle those mistakes with your customers that will determine if they come back for repeat business. If your company has received a sudden increase in business, it’s normal to make a few blunders while you figure things out. Just be sure to quickly communicate to keep customers in the loop, and let them know what you’re doing to avoid similar errors in the future. This shows how much you value their business and that you want to continue servicing them.
Create a reward or referral program:
We all know that the best advertising is by word of mouth, so give your customers (and employees) a reason to recommend your company to their family members and friends. Whether you provide discounts, upgrades, bonus products or cash, rewarding customers for their repeat business and positive recommendation is a win-win for them and for you.
Be visible in the community:
Giving back to the community that patronizes your business helps establish and solidify relationships, create brand awareness and support a healthy economic foundation in your area. Partnering with charitable organizations, sponsoring events and hosting functions that benefit members of the community are all excellent ways to show that your business is as invested in local citizens as they are in your company. Plus, it’s just a nice thing to do.