If you are a retailer, you may not think you have much in common with realtors.

But there are four areas that top realtors have mastered that many local retailers have yet to perfect. By taking a cue from your realtor friends and cultivating these four areas, you can help take your retail store to the next level.

Stage a Space Effectively

Realtors are masters at staging interior and exterior spaces. After all, if a house or property is not appealing, the odds of it selling at a good price or selling at all are greatly diminished. Many small business retailers can benefit by learning to use and stage their retail floors and space more effectively.

Use Your Retail Space to Highlight Your Key Products

If a house has a beautiful accent wall or fireplace, realtors will stage the room so that potential buyers focus on that feature. You should do the same with your products. Let’s say you are trying to push a seasonal product, like fall and holiday scented candles. Put a merchandise tower right near the front right of your store, where customers first walk in, in order to feature that product and increase sales. Think about your retail space and display design as an active and calculated element of each sale, not just a passive observer.

SEE ALSO: How To Design A Great Checkout Experience

Have a Strong and Professional Online Presence

With many real estate buyers and sellers doing the majority of their preliminary research online, realtors have had to develop a strong and professional online presence or risk being left behind. For the brick and mortar retailer, the most important thing is to have a professional business website.

Build a Good Looking Website

A business website does not have to be about online sales (as is often assumed), especially for the local brick and mortar retailer that wants customers to buy in-store. A well-designed website can:

  1. Serve as the online face of your business
  2. Drive business to your storefront
  3. Make you stand out from the crowd

It is also a place for review sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon to link to reviews, which adds credibility for your business. Setting up a professional website doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, there are a number of easy-to-use website builders that can have you up and running in no time.

Capture, Track, and Convert Leads More Successfully

For realtors, leads are the bread and butter of their business. If they do not capture, track, and convert leads successfully, they don’t get paid. Retailers generally do not rely on leads nearly as heavily as most realtors, but instead focus on managing customer and supplier relationships. But effective lead tracking can take a retailer to the next level of organization, resulting in happier customers, more effective labor, and more sales.

Using a CRM System

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Most realtors use CRM systems or lead tracking software to capture, manage, and track leads. It helps minimize the chance for human error and narrows down the odds of leads (and therefore income) falling through the cracks.

Your retail store can also benefit greatly from using a CRM system. For one, it gives you a great way to track and manage leads (potential customers). For example, let’s say you sell mattresses. A lot of customers like to come in, look, and then consider for a while before they buy a mattress. If you use a CRM system, you can get each of those potential customer’s contact information and then track where they are in the buying process, following up with them as needed. If a customer has not come back in a while, you can give them a quick call or send them a coupon via email to try and get them back into your store. Instead of having to keep track of a confusing paper trail for each client, you can see all of their info and contact history with just a few clicks. It’s worth trying out, especially since many of the top CRM providers are inexpensive or even free.

Build A Solid Referral Network

Realtors, especially those that focus on high-end properties, rely heavily on referrals to build their business. One good recommendation from a friend or acquaintance is much more likely to lead to a new customer or client then even the best designed or crafted marketing campaign. The same applies for retailers, especially local brick and mortar businesses that rely primarily on community traffic and sales.

Step 1: Take Care of Existing Customers
The first step to building a vibrant referral network that can exponentially increase sales growth is to take care of existing customers. According to SurveyMonkey, 97 percent of consumers say they are very likely to tell their friends about a company if they have experienced excellent customer service.

Good customer service is less about giving customers what they want and more about making them feel heard. If a customer feels like they have been listened to, they are much more likely to be satisfied with whatever solution or compromise you present.

Step 2: Ask for Referrals and Give Customers Incentive to Follow Through

The second step to building a strong referral system is simply to ask customers to refer you and give them a reason to follow through. Most customers want to support businesses they believe in, especially local businesses. By asking, you are simply giving them the extra push they need to follow through. It does not have to be awkward. If your customer gives your business a compliment, just follow up with, “Thanks so much! If you can recommend a friend to us, we’d love to give you both 15 percent off your next purchase.” Ask and incentivize and you will be well on your way to building a strong referral network.

Jason Rueger

Jason Rueger

Jason Rueger is an analyst and staff writer for Fit Small Business. When not helping other small business owners Jason is busy running his own small business, Rueger Pottery, where he specializes in handmade, functional ware. You can reach him at jrueger@fitsmallbusiness.com.