The answer to Mr. Neuman’s question is: “It’s hard not to”. The truth is that ‘worry’ won’t get you through it. Worry might turn your feet to cement, so the only intelligent thing to do is turn your ‘worry’ into action. You can’t do anything about the larger economy: you can affect your company’s. No matter how much deeper/shallower, longer/shorter this economic upheaval is, there is some good news/bad news. The good news is, as a small business owner how you fair is in your hands. The bad news is, how you fair is in your hands. As a business owner you are the determining factor whether your company’s economic condition improves, stays the same or slides downhill.
Here are some predictions: customer yields will continue to decrease, orders will come in less frequently from each customer, and extending your reach to the next new customer will be challenging. However, people still want and need services and the vast majority of the working population will keep their jobs.
There is only one response to a downturn in the economy and that is to sell your way through it! Easy for us to say and lots of work for you.
Here is an excerpt from an internal Pressed4Time newsletter that may help stimulate some selling juices for your particular business:
Pressed4Tme has enormous advantages over most retail businesses: we’re a delivered service. Fixed location businesses have fewer options to extend their reach to new customers during economic slow downs, they can lower prices (usually the beginning of the end) or get creative with marketing and hope someone will notice. We, on the other hand, can go meet and talk to people in their offices and homes. This doesn’t cost a lot of money, only hard work and shoe leather. The fact is your goal for customer acquisition each month should be at least 30 new customers. Is this goal easily reached – hell no! Your sales closure rate might decrease, the river might rise or the sky might fall. Rather than picking up a new office for every 4 doors you walk through it might require 8 or 9 doors during this period; or, rather than receiving a referral from one out of three customers, it might be one out of six – it’s a numbers game. You can lament how much harder it is to get new customers or accept the reality of the times and ‘Just Do It’.
More and more dry cleaners will begin pickup and delivery services. A few will succeed and most will not. There will also be opportunities as weaker competitors close their doors. Keep your eyes and ears open for competitors’ routes that may be worth acquiring. In fact, don’t wait for bad news about those other routes, approach folks now and plant the seed for future conversations. Remember, the Home Office has a lot of experience with Route acquisition.
One more, bright spot. Believe it or not, higher gas prices are a good thing for P4T. It is difficult to see it when you’re watching those numbers tick higher and higher as you fill the van. But, we are hearing from many Strategic Partners that acquiring new customers is a little easier in some respects as people look to reduce their driving. Our service is perfectly positioned for now, and the future, as delivered services play well in conjunction with increasing fuel prices and carbon reduction efforts in light of global warming: we’re a van-pool for the multi-errand services our customers require.
The first goal of any business is to survive. These economic times are brutal for many, but don’t ever forget as a business owner you can’t get laid off, you have some control. BUT, through your own inactivity and fear of facing economic challenges head-on, you can involuntarily retire yourself! Do something, do it now and do it often.