Just like the weather, our business changes seasons too. With the winter months upon us, it is tempting to let decking sales take a backseat to more active-selling categories. But as we transition from a busy summer selling season to a slower winter season, keep in mind that it doesn’t last long. Before we know it, it will be spring again. Here are five things you can do over the winter months that can help strengthen your sales when decking season is in full swing.
1. Analyze Vendor Relationships
The vendors you used during the height of your deck sales don’t necessarily need to be the same vendors you use next summer. Gather together as a team to determine which vendors have performed really well, which ones have room for improvement, and which ones you likely won’t deal with next year.
It is important to decide this as a group, because not every business owner has insight into the full vendor relationship. For example, I may be pleased with a vendor, but someone on my team may have experienced billing or shipping issues that I was not involved with.
2. Choose Your Products
Any good decking products retailer makes their product decisions during the slow winter months. So many manufacturers get this part wrong. Any manufacturer that introduces new decking products after January is missing the boat. Just because it is spring for the consumer, most retailers have already decided what products to carry so that we have ample stock when the warm weather returns.
Take time during the winter months to evaluate products on hand. Determine as a team what is working and what isn’t. Vendors again enter this discussion, because if we really like a product, we’ll sometimes go with a substandard vendor because they have an exclusive on the product. We’ll often switch vendors once that product is more widely available, however.
3. Create Displays
Once you’ve determined which decking products you’re going to carry, then you’ll need to create displays. Cold winter days are great for this. At the Deck Store, we’ve found building displays to be a great team building activity. By building our own displays, we’re also developing a better understanding of the products. As we educate ourselves on the products, we acquire hands-on knowledge that shows when our customers come in with questions. Building displays onsite also helps you go through your inventory, fix anything that has been neglected, and finally catch up on some cleaning and equipment repairs that you had put off over the summer. This is also a good time to re-plan your store. Set up your new displays so that when more customers come in the spring, the store looks clean and bright.
4. Plan Your Home Shows
While home shows are generally scheduled for January and February in our market, we need to have an idea of what products to have on hand and the best way to display and demonstrate the products. Having recently created our in-store displays by hand, our product knowledge is fresh as we enter home show season. Here in my home market of Minneapolis/St. Paul, our home shows are very popular in the winter. We reserve our spots a year in advance and spend months of planning and preparation.