Addressing Sales Cycles
Current Take: COVID-19
For most business owners, the COVID-19 crisis put a halt to business as usual. In response, many have turned up their creativity and pivoted operations to respond to new market needs. Distilleries producing hand sanitizer, caterers providing meals to frontline workers and clothing manufacturers making PPE are all extreme examples of using core competencies in new ways to respond to shifting market needs and remain operational. Selling stored value (or “gift”) cards has been widely used as a means for getting cash to businesses affected by the COVID-19 situation. Customers looking to support their favorite businesses are buying these cards in hopes that they will be able to redeem them when the store or restaurant reopens.
Addressing Peaks and Valleys
The variability of your business depends on what you sell. Changing seasons, the school calendar and holidays are examples of factors that may drive your business cycle. Some businesses experience many small ups and downs over the course of the year, while others experience big peaks and valleys. This inconsistency can be the biggest challenge that a business faces. What are some methods you can employ to fill the gaps?
Sell all year long
Consider offering a subscription or a membership to secure a reliable stream of cash and build loyalty among customers. Having a recurring, reliable inflow of cash may offset the cost of a discount or other added value provided to these customers.
Stored value cards
Selling stored value cards or gift cards can help you get cash into your business during low season. Locations heavily affected by seasonality will sell these to their regular customers to get them through a slow time. They also provide customers with a way to support a favorite business and ensure it’s there when they want it.
Sell through alternate distribution channels
If your customer base is seasonal, find a way to reach them through ecommerce. Businesses in seasonal locations/vacation destinations can sell to loyal customers all year round online. Identify partners to sell your product when your traditional market is slow. For example, bakers with concentration of retail sales in the morning can produce for restaurants with needs later in the day.
In addition to these ideas, another smart move is to expand your customer base. Relying on too few customers to support your business can be challenging. Use the Customer Analysis Worksheet to segment your customers and identify opportunities to grow your target audience based on their characteristics and their potential contribution to your business.
Get in touch with your customer base
This worksheet will help delineate each segment of your customer base. Identify who they are, what goals you have and how to communicate with them.Download the worksheet
For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The author’s views may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone, and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions, and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.