When Business Gets Slow, What Can You Do to
Get It Going? (Tips to Help When
Business is Slow)

by Alan J. Zell

Any business that has been around for a few years experiences the ebb and flow of the economy. It is when business is down that businesses find the road is not so smooth. Here are some things you can do to bring in sales when business is slow.

Business turns from being very "up" to being very "down." Any business that has been around for a few years experiences the ebb and flow of the economy. It is when business is down that businesses find the road is not so smooth. If a firm is feeling a pinch, most likely, their customers' businesses are feeling the same downturn. Is there a solution? Yes, there is!

In a positive business climate purchases will sometimes be made of things they might not need in addition to what they do need. When times are tight they will only want to buy what they need at the moment. The fact that customers are buying less is not all bad. An empty warehouse, the saying goes, leaves room for goods to be added; a full warehouse rarely has any room.

There are several ways to promote business. The first way that usually comes to mind is to run a price promotion. It's easy to do and often fills the immediate need. Long range, it may hurt. This does not mean that price promotions are all bad. They are often good: close outs and special purchases, as examples, will help both the supplier and the customer. Promoting by price may stimulate business, but if the customer hasn't used up the special priced goods they bought, when it comes time to sell them at regular price, the customer won't buy anything. In addition, the low price becomes the only price.

In tough times, cash flow is even more difficult to maintain than in good times. It is possible the reason customers aren't ordering is due to lack of cash flow. A deferred or extended payment plan may be the answer for them.



Some companies will exchange goods on a 2, 3, or 4-to-1 basis so they could get their better selling or new merchandise into their customers' hands. When I was a buyer, I was willing to take 10% less than my cost on what I was trading back so that I could get the better selling or new items. It was a case of "the best items sell first" and what I had in stock were the slower-selling items so it paid me to get the better selling items in without having the slower selling ones sitting on the shelf.

In one trade-back program, my vendor left the slower-selling goods on consignment after giving us the credit toward the new order. It was cheaper for them to have the goods in my basement than having to handle them again. Besides, if the goods were still in my possession, there was a better chance for me to sell some of them. Surprisingly, it didn't take very long for us to move the old goods between what we sold and then sending, at our supplier's instructions, the remainder to their other customers.

As a vendor, helping customers over the "hump" may be a way of increasing business not only during slow times but may have a very positive effect when times get better.

The answer may be as simple as creating new methods of advertising the product. All too often, "standard" goods are not looked upon as exciting. They were exciting when they were new, so why not look at them as if they were new? Maybe they haven't been advertised for a long time. An ad, a poster, a new display unit, new boxes or labels, ideas of new ways of use, are some of the methods that could be used to boost sales.

What is important is that you are willing to do something to get things moving. More important, any of these methods would be telling your staff and your customers that you are not sitting back and crying in your beer. Instead, you are ordering "beer on the house for everyone!"

Alan Zell is Ambassador Of Selling at Attitudes for Selling. Mr. Zell offers seminars, workshops, consulting for business, industry and academic groups and consulting for individuals, business, industry and academic groups by e-mail. For further information please visit his website at www.sellingselling.com.

 
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