Carole White: Getting it right at the right time

The autumn/winter catalogues have started to drop on our doorsteps with a mighty thud and some shops have started to stock all those dreary greys and blacks

Shoppers on Northumberland Street in Newcastle
Shoppers on Northumberland Street in Newcastle

The autumn/winter catalogues have started to drop on our doorsteps with a mighty thud and some shops have started to stock all those dreary greys and blacks, when some of us are still choosing new bikinis.

As consumers, we’ve got used to being ahead of the seasons like this – but what about your business?

Few businesses have a flat line when it comes to turnover and it is important on a number of levels to understand the peaks and troughs of your trade:

Have you increased your marketing ahead of the peak? Have you enough stock to cope with the increase in demand? Can you afford to buy more stock?

Have you got the staff to cope with the demand or do you need short term or part time staff? How are you going to pay your fixed costs such as rent, rates, utilities during the quiet times?

Large companies like the major supermarket chains have very sophisticated ways of tracking sales, but it is purely to make sure they get the right amount of the right stock on the shelves at the right time and have a minimum amount of wastage.

Take the last few weeks as an example. The supermarkets get detailed information from the Met Office so they are ready for barbecue weather – apparently 19C is the temperature at which we all start to think about eating outdoors.

The supermarkets need to be able to provide beefburgers, sausages, prepared chicken portions, barbecues, charcoal, plastic wine and beer glasses, the list is long. If they get it wrong, the customer is not happy and worse, will go somewhere else. If the Met Office get it wrong, there are a lot of barbecues in the end of season sale!

Small business owners may not have as complicated decisions to make, but they too must make sure they are ready to satisfy their customers demands or lose trade.

You need to keep any eye on trends in your own sector, but also find out what is happening locally. Read your local paper, join networks, follow online business forums. All will provide an insight into other businesses which could prove invaluable.

Being in business is exciting because you are responsible for everything from promotion to product, from the paperclips to press releases. Plan ahead and you will be the right business at the right place at the right time when your competitors are still hoping they’ll just get lucky.

:: Carole White is business development manager of TEDCO Ltd. For support or advice, call 0191 428 3300, email enquire@tedco.org or visit www.tedco.org

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