SOURCE: Scotiabank


December 12, 2013 06:30 ET

Small Business Owners: Get a Head Start on Your New Year's Resolutions!

Scotiabank Offers Tips to Attract and Retain Customers During the Holidays and Beyond

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - December 12, 2013) - With 31% of Canadians doing their holidays shopping throughout December and 7% waiting until the week before, Scotiabank offers tips for small business owners to help them entice new customers throughout the holidays and well into the new year.

Three out of ten (27%) small business owners vow to make attracting new customers a priority for their business in the new year, according to a recent Scotiabank Small Business Poll. Following attracting new customers, the next most common New Year's resolutions are improving work/life balance (13%) and being more organized (11%).

Quick Facts:

  • Attracting new customers is the most common New Year's resolution in all regions other than the Prairies where improving work/life balance rises to the top at 20%.
  • The top challenges small business owners identified this holiday season are taking time off from their business (24%), revenue decreases (20%) and scheduling staff (12%). 
  • Small business owners in Quebec are particularly concerned about revenue decreases as 39% have identified this as their top concern.

Small Business Owners' New Year's Resolution by Region

  National Average  Atlantic  Quebec  Ontario  Prairies  B.C.  
Attracting customers 27 %36 %34 %29 %14 %23 %
Improving work/life balance 13 %11 %4 %16 %20 %11 %
Being more organized 11 %15 %14 %8 %8 %13 %

Small Business Owners' Holiday Challenges by Region

  National Average  Atlantic  Quebec  Ontario  Prairies  B.C.  
Difficult to take time off from business 24 %26 %20 %30 %23 %20 %
Revenue decreases 20 %23 %39 %15 %10 %14 %
Scheduling staff 12 %12 %6 %15 %9 %14 %


"The year-end holiday season may be the biggest sale period for many businesses, but it can also be the most competitive," says John Roberts, Scotiabank's Vice President of Small Business. "Having a solid plan and tactics to attract and retain customers, not only during the holidays but throughout the year, can go a long way to differentiating your business and build customer loyalty over the long run."

Top 5 tips to attract and retain customers:

  1. Get the last-minute holiday shoppers. For last-minute traffic-boosting ideas, consider offering small discounts on your website for select products and services. If you don't offer online products or services, a coupon that is easy to print from your website may help bring customers to your door and distinguish you from the competition.
  1. Create a buzz. Reach out to community papers to promote your products and services. Consider holding a charity event, such as a clothing, toy or food drive and invite your customers and employees to participate.
  1. Spread the word. Word of mouth is still the strongest way to build a solid business reputation, at the holidays and beyond. Your customers may also be stressed out by the holiday rush, and going that extra mile to provide exceptional customer service to make your clients feel appreciated can set you apart from your competitors and make a difference not only for the holidays, but all year round.
  1. Get them on the list. Take advantage of increased customer traffic to build your database by offering customers an incentive to leave their business card, such as a charity donation for every card left, or a raffle for goods or services. Use these cards to update your email or mailing list to let you keep in touch with customers throughout the year. Already have a customer database? A carefully crafted message targeting last-minute shoppers might be worth considering.
  1. Offer the gift of choice. Gift cards or certificates are very popular -- and for good reason. They offer convenience to customers and can help generate sales well into January, and beyond, when gifts are redeemed. They've also been shown to reduce the amount of returns (since the giftee makes his or her own selection) and can lead to purchases beyond the face value of the card or certificate.

Small business owners can visit for free information, tips, blogs, whitepapers, videos, webinars and more to help them develop and grow their business.

About the Small Business Poll data
For this survey, TNS Canada conducted online interviews among 501 owners/partners of small businesses with under $5 million annual revenue. In tabulation, data was weighted to be representative of the small business universe in terms of annual revenue and region. The survey was conducted between September 25 and 30, 2013.

About the Holiday Spending Poll data
Harris/Decima completed 1,006 online surveys among a random sample of Harris/Decima panel members. The study was conducted from November 1, 2013 through November 7, 2013.

About Scotiabank
Scotiabank is a leading financial services provider in over 55 countries and Canada's most international bank. Through our team of more than 83,000 employees, Scotiabank and its affiliates offer a broad range of products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management, corporate and investment banking to over 21 million customers. With assets of $744 billion (as at October 31, 2013), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto (TSX: BNS) and New York Exchanges (NYSE: BNS). Scotiabank distributes the Bank's media releases using Marketwired. For more information please visit

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