Although I may be an optimist, it does seem as if we are beginning to see some faint glimmers of hope in terms of an economic recovery.
The Consumer Confidence Index rose from 47.4 in July up to 54.1 in August; the stock market is steadying; and unemployment rates are leveling, if not decreasing. We certainly are not out of the woods yet, but we are at least pointed in the right direction and seem to be making our way out.
When the economy does in fact turn around and the good times roll again—and economists are predicting this could happen as soon as early 2010—it is imperative that your business is ready for the rebound. After this recent economic recession, which as you know has been the worst since the Great Depression, the way we do business will be forever changed. I recommend you start preparing yourself and your business now.
For starters, you will likely have to change the way you sell to your customers. Their buying habits have been shifting over the past year, and you need to figure out how so. For instance, they are likely to be more interested in spending less money for the same high-value product.
In the case of the water treatment and enhancement industry, these services may have been placed in the “nice but not necessary” category of spending for many consumers as they closely watched their spending budgets shrink. If you have seen a decrease in inquiries or spending in recent months, now is the time to re-evaluate your business approach. Perhaps you need to start offering equipment rentals? Or maybe it is time you begin that promotional sales campaign you have been thinking about? Now is the time to do some research, talk to your customers (even if they are not buying from you at the moment) and figure out what it is they are looking for at this point in time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that once business starts flowing again, financing within the water industry will be quite different than what it used to be. Lenders will be underwriting deals more closely to try to protect themselves from losses. As a dealer, you can expect more requests for information from your customers such as proof of income, so be prepared and ask your customers for this up front. It will also be a good idea to develop relationships with multiple finance companies until the market strengthens again.
And if you find yourself with more time on your hands today, be productive because this is only the calm before the storm. It is the perfect time to update or enhance your company website or develop a strong marketing campaign. When business does pick up again, it will happen quickly and you likely will not have the time to come up with a new company slogan.
So instead of sulking during the downturn, use your time wisely and enhance your business strategy. You will find yourself much more prepared and ahead of your competition when things do turn around again. After all, chance does favor the prepared mind.