If the good will and marketing buzz around Small Business Saturday succeeds in driving lots of unfamiliar faces into your store, the next challenge is to make them life-long customers. Consider these strategies to turn your big-day visitors into returning customers:


Be prepared to do business

The first big shopping weekend of the holiday season is not the time to try out new hires or launch a new payment system. It’s your chance to impress many new customers at once—don’t frustrate them with having to deal with clueless sales clerks or long checkout lines. If customers leave your store impressed by your smooth operation and friendly service, they’re likely to return.


Capture contact info

Capitalize on the spirit of the day: People who are in your store to support their local business community are likely to be happy to keep in touch. Ask new customers to sign up for your email list, follow you on Facebook, or download your loyalty app. Encourage shoppers to take photos of themselves in your store and share them on Twitter with the #SmallBizSat or #ShopSmall hashtags.


Revisit your unique value

One of the best ways to create a long-term customer is to emphasize your company’s expertise. Is it your team’s deep knowledge of your product category? Do you carry products crafted by local artisans? Perhaps, the individualized service you provide is what customers value most about you. Remind your team, and yourself, of what customers love about your store and make sure those attributes shine on Small Business Saturday.


Freshen up your service policy

Personalized service is one of the biggest reasons people become loyal to small merchants. Review your service values with all employees before the busy season starts, including basics such as how to greet guests, whether to demonstrate an item or escort a customer to the aisle, and how you would like them to respond to unhappy customers.


Show support for the small business community

When customers seek items you don’t carry, there’s no better way to show your fidelity to shopping local than to recommend other merchants in town who may carry what they want. To really impress your customers, you can even call your fellow merchants and ask if they have the item available—saving the customer tons of time. It’s a good idea to stroll your streets periodically and discover the new things other small businesses in your community have to offer. An even better idea is to make other merchants aware of who you are, what you do, what you sell and how to reach you.


Use mobile payments

If you’re expecting crowds to overwhelm your single POS system this holiday season, consider adopting mobile payment processing. Each member of your sales team can process credit cards from a mobile phone or iPad anywhere in the store. Just be sure you’ve tested the system and trained your team well in advance.


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