Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to Keep Your Piano Business Going in a Tough Economy

Go "old school" and pull out all the stops! Remember back in the old days when you would tell everyone you knew that you were in the piano business and hand them your business card? Well, it never hurts to practice proactive activities like this one. The web is great, but piano people are typically more traditional then the average bear, so you should be aware that most of these customers would rather get a phone call than an e-mail. They'd rather meet you in person than see your "bio" on the web. It still works. Get out of the house and promote your business the "old school" way a little bit.

What does Donald Trump tell people to do on the first day on "The Apprentice?" He sends them into Times Square in New York City and makes them raise as much money as they can in some cases and in other cases has them get as many new customers as they can and dollars don't count. Why?

Because "old school" works!

Yes, use the web, use Facebook, but don't forget, for hundreds of years the piano has been the center of attention in many social situations. The piano bar, the piano teacher's studio, the professional recording studio, the church, at your neighbor's house, below the stage on Broadway, even above the McDonald's doorway in New York City!

Piano people like to use the piano as a reason to talk it up!

1. Tell your friends and family that you can use some more piano business and if they "know of anyone" to please have them call this number because business is slow and you need all the help you can get right now.

2. Post cheap Pennysaver ads. (In Massachusetts, I pay about $17 per week to reach 77,000 households.)

3. Partner with other types of businesses with the "I'll promote you if you promote me for free" philosophy.
(This actually works just fine with businesses that are not related to music. If you are a piano teacher, you might strike a casual deal with the local tutor who gives after school help to kids.)

4. Tell your kids that you'll give them a commission for every new customer they bring you! You'll be surprised what results kids will come up with if you ask them.

5. Go meet some people. Stop in at the local diner and eat at the snack bar. Talk it up.

6. Understand, when people see you are trying to drum up business, they will many times offer some type of help...even if it's a referral that you now have to go follow up on, do it.

7. Answer this question the right way,

"What have you been up to?"

"I've been working on drumming up more piano business today...any suggestions?"
(Not "Oh the economy is so terrible, I don't know what I'm going to do.")

There are plenty of people are thinking about spending a little money right now, you just have to show them "why it's a good idea."

8. Keep trying everything, every day until you find what works...don't chicken out! Be persistant!

9. When people ask for a discount, say this:

"Well, I normally give a 10% discount on this, but I'm going to add a second discount in an effort to help people get a second price break right now during the recession."

10. Ask your current customers to refer business to you and pay them a one-time referral fee if it turns into a sale! I tell people all the time, "If you refer a piano tuning customer to me and it turns into a paying job for me, I will send you a check for $10. What is your address?"

One out of ten people will send you a ton of business. Tell your customers that you need to work on the "honor system" so you will have to trust each other to make this work. The person who is doing the referring should keep a list of who they talked to while keeping in mind that everybody will not turn into a paying customer. Only a portion double check the end results with each other and "TRUST" IS THE KEY.

Hope this gets the wheels turning a little bit for you.

Thanks for reading this over.

-- Rob A.

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