Will You Be Ready When the Boom Times End?

By Rich Lindblom, That’s Rich Columnist

We have all heard the saying, “All good things must come to an end.” 

Well, I have a newsflash for you: The same can be said of the boom times that the majority of members are experiencing right now.  For the past year-and-a-half, most have been selling whatever product they can get their hands on as fast as they can get it, and sometimes even faster, which is great. 

But let’s face it, sooner or later things will return to normal.  I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here; I’m just trying to be realistic about the current environment. Business simply cannot keep up at this pace forever.

So, the question is, what are you going to do about it? 

Are you going to be one of those dealers who just shrugs his or her shoulders and accepts a 10 percent, 20 percent or, for some, as much as a 50 percent drop in business as an inescapable fact?  Or are you going to do something about it? 

BrandSource members have been growing their businesses and adding market share at a historic pace, and because of that many dealers are gaining dozens and sometimes even hundreds of first-time customers every month. These are customers they may not have gotten the chance to win were it not for the pandemic.  And because of that, you have spent countless hours and who knows how much money attracting and training additional employees to handle the growth of your business. Many of you have added more delivery and service trucks along with increasing your warehouse space and your showroom as well.

So, once again I ask you: What are you going to do one, two or even five years from now (no one really knows how long) when this whole pandemic/shortage situation is in the rearview mirror?  Are you really going to just let those fully trained employees walk away because you don’t have enough work to keep them busy?  And what about that extra square footage in your showroom and warehouse? 

Now don’t get me wrong — I am not talking doom and gloom here. Just the opposite. I have always believed that it is far better to be pro-active than reactive, and if you ask me, today is the best time to start laying plans to pick up replacement business when things begin to go back to normal. Everyone needs to keep the pedal to the metal and keep growing their business.

This is not the time to take your foot off the accelerator.

So how do you do that? The simple answer, and the one most people will think of first, would be to bring in additional brands of the same product lines. That might help, but I’m thinking much bigger. Rather than bring in more brands, why not bring in more product lines? 

There are plenty of high-margin product lines out there that dealers could be looking at.

If you are an electronics dealer, what about adding appliances to your mix?

If you are an appliance dealer, how about adding bedding to your mix?

And if you are a furniture dealer, what about an outdoor assortment? 

If you think about it, there are many product lines out there that deliver strong margins that would simply be an extension of what your employees and your store are already doing.  If you have extra square footage available, why wouldn’t you fill it with high-margin products that you don’t currently sell?

Case in point: Abt Electronics. Being in the Chicago area, I battled every day that I was open for business with this company, which is one of the biggest and best-run retailers out there.  When I first got into the business in the late 1970s, all they sold was electronics and appliances.  But over the past 20 years or so they have added all manner of products to their mix, including luxury watches, luggage, sunglasses, furniture, outdoor, home theater, home, car and personal audio, virtual reality, gaming chairs, faucets and even the proverbial kitchen sink. The list goes on and on.  Pretty much anything you can think of apart from clothes and food can be found in their lone megastore.

But the Abt family was very smart about it; they didn’t just add products for the sake of adding products. They added complementary products that offer high margins.

Look, I’m not saying you all need to go out there and start selling Rolex watches. But there is a wide variety of products out there that people are looking for, the vast majority of which are available to you through one of BrandSource’s vendor partners.  So why not keep all those new customers coming back to you not just once a year, but multiple times a year?

Related: Are You Using All the Tools in the BrandSource Toolbox?

Here’s a rundown of some suggested moneymakers:

  • Air cleaners & purifiers
  • Appliances
  • Bar Furniture
  • Battery Backup Sump Pumps
  • Bedding
  • Cabinets
  • Emergency Generators
  • Faucets
  • Fire Tables
  • Furniture
  • Gas Grills
  • Humidifiers
  • Light fixtures
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Patio Heaters
  • Water Filtration Systems
  • Water Heaters

I’m sure I missed a few, but you get the idea.  Do your homework and try to find some new products that fit well in your company portfolio — products that you can not only sell, but also make good money on as well. Because the time to plan for your company’s future is right now.

It’s always gratifying to hear from readers when one of my articles struck a particular chord. So, if you have a question or comment (good or bad) about something I wrote about, please contact me at egvrich@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.