Insight From New Small Business Survey

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As a small, local business it is essential to understand your consumers — their wants, needs and dislikes. To help, Yodle, a leader in local online marketing, released the results of an in-depth survey on consumer behavior and preferences related to local service businesses.

The survey, “Yodle Insights: What Consumers Want from Local Businesses,” examined how consumers find, choose, use and interact with local businesses. Of the over 6,000 people surveyed, 673 were clients of local fitness centers.

“As part of our business, we are relentlessly focused on helping our clients, the small business owners, be successful in acquiring customers,” said Paul Bascobert, the president of local at Yodle. “So to do that well, it is very important for us they stay close to their customers and understand how they buy, why they buy and why they choose various companies and how to build solutions that help them be successful.”

According to Bascobert, the survey is part of the company’s annual market research conducted to help its customers better understand the trends related to small businesses. He highlighted a few results from the survey that might be insightful for local business owners.

  • There is positive economic growth. “You can definitely see there is a little bit of a turn around in terms of the economic growth. About half of our customers this year said they expect to consume more services next year than this year, which is a nice trend.”
  • People choose small businesses for the connection and community, not price. “There is both an opportunity and cautionary tale here for small businesses to be careful about using price to attract customers because in fact, consumers are really looking for personalized service and that local connection that a small business can provide. They are willing to pay more for that, so it is important for small businesses to be careful.”
  • Reviews are essential to your business. “The market expectation has gone from where reviews were something that were interesting, to now they are a mainstream expectation and if you don’t have them, it is probably an indication that something is wrong and you are behind the times. It is really important to have reviews, whether they are good or bad, because it demonstrates a level of openness and transparency.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. “Three-fourths of the customers we surveyed said they expect to see a review in some form. The more interesting component is when we asked them about being solicited for reviews, almost 90 percent of people said they would be more than willing to provide a review if they were asked, but only 7 percent said they had been asked for a review. So when you combine those things together, you have a market where three-fourths of the consuming public is expecting reviews, 90 percent of customers are willing to provide it, yet the businesses themselves only asked 7 percent of them. So it is a huge opportunity gap to close. The reason people are choosing these businesses in the first place is for that personal connection. What a great way to establish that by having people in the community offer reviews.”
  • As a fitness center, your customers want to have a relationship with you. “One of the things we asked was frequency of engagement, and health centers had one of the highest engagements, with roughly 30 visits per year, which is almost weekly. I think this reflects the nature of the business. When you think about a fitness center, versus a plumber or electrician, it is a relationship that you want. You don’t really want a great relationship with your plumber — that means you have a lot of plumbing issues. But if you have a relationship with your fitness center, that means things are going well. Fitness centers have a great opportunity to take advantage of that desire and do things like newsletters, special offers, renewal offers to maintain that relationship.”

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