A few weeks back while talking with one of our members, I said I hoped to see him in his shop in October. As you might imagine, he laughed and said, “I’ll see if we can squeeze you in!”
That was great to hear. It reinforced that his shop was busy, and that he expected hunting season’s craziness to continue for some time. As you read this, busy season isn’t over. If this year is anything like last year, the busy season is a little later than previous years. You might be trying to do more than just keep up, knowing it’s easy to fall into the trap of surviving day to day. Instead, you might be focusing on more distant challenges. That is, how can you ensure that this fall’s first-time customers return in spring, or next summer, or fall?
Early in my career, I celebrated big wins in the moment. When achieving sales targets, I wanted to enjoy it for a while. That attitude didn’t last long. The longer I patted myself on the back, the further I fell toward the back of the pack. I learned it’s important to keep moving the target.
Try to think one step ahead so that you have plenty of time to prepare. Photo Credit: ATA
Especially today, with retail and manufacturing competition evolving more quickly than ever, we must focus on next month, next quarter and next year as much as we do on today’s sales. That’s a challenge when we’re surviving in the moment, buried by emails, customers, fulfilments, phone calls and repair orders. But balancing current and future challenges has immediate impacts on our businesses.
The ATA provides a good example. Maria Lewis and her team are focused on bringing #ATA2019 to life in Louisville in January. At the same time, they’re thinking about what it will take to make #ATA2020 a must-see event. They’re also gathering critical input on what we should do to support our members. Those goals are years down the road, but Maria’s team can’t focus strictly on today, if they’re to succeed in 2020 and beyond.
Assess your business model and think about whether it will continue helping you in the future or if it needs modified. Photo Credit: ATA
The same thing applies to your pro shop, distribution business, or manufacturing efforts. I try to apply a simple but great rule of thumb to decision-making and business planning. That is, will the effort we make today help us next year? Will it help us five years from now? If not, maybe there’s a good reason to keep doing it, but let’s dig into it a little more. Although you must focus on sales you make today, it’s important to consider how you’re making that sale, and whether it’ll help you in the future.
Another great coaching point, which works for both business and career planning, is to behave like you’ve already achieved the next step in your business. If you want to attract a different type of customer, behaving in ways that resonate with them helps attract them more quickly.
It’s too easy to say, “Those kinds of customers never buy from me.” That will always be true if you stay exactly the same. But if you have potential customers you want in your business, determining why they would buy from you – and then behaving in ways that make that an attractive option – greatly increases the odds they’ll do so.
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