The Upside To A Down Economy

This is no Time to be Twiddling Your Thumbs:

No one is denying it’s a tough economy out there, with nearly everyone feeling it’s financial impact. Especially small retailers, with many struggling to meet ends meet during times of tight credit and sluggish sales.

Despite these hardships, there’s a silver lining for small businesses. You can focus on increasing profitability rather than sales growth.

Yes, it seems obvious, to the point of being cliché. But it’s tempting to look at sales growth and say business is great, when in fact profits are plummeting. Reverse the situation, a drop in sales may seem discouraging on the surface, but may potentially increase your bottom line.

When a recession causes tough times, there’s an opportunity to shore up both your top and bottom lines. Here are a few tips to help.

The Top Line Sales:

Sales are slow, with more window shoppers turning into lurkers rather than buyers. While this may be discouraging, don’t despair. You have been presented an opportunity – Time. Don’t spend it hoping for change, but use it to create change.

When business is buzzing you don’t always have time to give the extra personal touch to every customer. As a result, you purchase expensive mass media marketing opportunities like TV, Radio, and Newspaper ads. Now that you have some extra time, spend it letting your customers know you appreciate them, ask them how you can help them through the tough economy, and get referrals. Congratulations, you’ve just taken the first step to building more sales using cost effective marketing that will also reduce your advertising budget and boost profits.

Spend some time cleaning up the shop, design new displays, reorganize the layout, and get it ready to sell, for when a customer does come in the store.

Communicate with your staff. The people that work for you often have great ideas that are easy to implement, and will create new sales and profitability. Encourage your employees to get creative and share innovative ideas, so you can all grow together.

Bottom Line Savings:

You must scrutinize every dollar spent, to determine if it’s generating returns that lead to profitability. As discussed earlier, using more time intensive, but less money hungry marketing programs is a possible way to improve bottom line health.

Business ProcessesAnother is to optimize your business processes. Every day you perform many tasks, which may feel like rituals, because you have done them for so long, and so frequently that the act has become automatic.

Routines are great, however, it’s wise to periodically review processes to find new ways to reduce time and materials. For example, do you need to print out copies, or can you keep digital archives? A click of the mouse is faster then printing a copy. Further, using less paper and ink is both beneficial to the environment and your wallet. To quote Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin, “because we’ve always done it that way,” is no longer a valid reason.

Another way to save is to buy smarter. Search out suppliers who offer quantity discounts, or other incentives, such as free shipping on orders over X dollars (Premier offer’s both in case you were wondering!).

If you cannot afford buying minimum orders, speak with other local retailers about pooling your resources, and placing one big purchase. Perhaps you’re worried your packaging will look too similar to others in a pooled order. If that’s the case, consider custom printing labels for your packaging. Take the time to look at how much you spend on packaging & other supplies, we bet you’ll find you can save a lot by buying wisely.

Take Back Your Time:

In conclusion, when sales are slow, take advantage of the extra time, and use it to help your business get through the tough times. This will prepare you to be stronger in the good times. If you have other tips for improving your profits please share them in the comments section below.

Photo credit JoelTelling