It sounds simple, but with a little careful planning (& sticking to the plan) you can increase your awning business' efficiency as we head into another jam-packed summer...
Pick your targeted product ranges, fabrics, options, suppliers, ordering systems and learn everything about them.
Humans are creatures of habit and as such will always stick to what they are familiar with, and dislike 'unexplored territory'.
Our tip is to gather information on the products you want to sell (or sell more of) and really study it and share this knowledge amongst your entire team (excellent communication is essential). This way, you are ready to answer any questions as they arise. Doing this will make you the expert with the answers that your customers desire.
Try to focus on selling what you are already geared up for selling and try to avoid adding unknown (or unplanned) products to your range during the busiest time of the year.
It sounds simple, but a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeve shirts, a windscreen shade & make sure you add some SPF50+ sunscreen for you and your team and always keep it in your vehicle.
Doing this will have multiple knock-on effects for your business:
Demonstrates to your customer that you are acutely aware of the benefit of sunshade and its relation to comfort & skin health.
You & your crew will notice a reduction in heat-related stress.
Reduced sun exposure & sweat less.
Reduce you and your teams' potential for skin cancer in later life.
Increased professionalism (especially with a branded hat) and image.
Manage your customers' expectations.
Summer is the single busiest time of the year for most companies, and our beloved industry feels like one of the most affected by the climate.
By getting ahead of your customers' desires for instant gratification (the speed at which you can install a product after the payment date), you can reduce stress and frustration from the get-go.
The Summer of 2020 is shaping up to be the single-busiest-summer in many years. So there are bound to be a few hiccups along the way.
So, by informing your customer that due to;
Compounded sales from everyone holding off on buying awnings during summer 2019 (due to fires then flooding across Australia)
Redirection of disposable income due to locally imposed travel restrictions.
People using their early release of superannuation funds to improve their home has increased accessibility/potential customer base of these premium products.
Difficulties around freight, shipping & wharfie-strikes compounded by covid.
...there may be some unexpected delays on your orders, so please inform your customers that everyone is working as hard and as smart as possible to get all jobs done.
Far more sales are being worked on by every Australian awning & blind manufacturer. The current workload (Mid October 2020) already feels beyond would be considered to be a "normal" peak season workload.
Getting your customer to understand this, on top of the current difficulties with importing most of the items required to make awnings will go a LONG way to reducing their frustration, should anything go awry.
Just remind your customers (& yourself) that we are all doing our very best.
Finally, to avoid the dreaded ...but you promised me you would install it on..." conversation.
avoid 'promising' dates for your customers.
Ideally you should "aim for", "plan for" or "pencil in approximate" dates and while it's not always possible or the most practical for all businesses; don't book a firm installation date until you either: have the product on hand or have a spare slot to move it to if something becomes delayed.
Remember, we are all doing our best.
Prepare for the unexpected & keep your cool when it happens.
As you know, in business - things don't always go to plan. Its hard if-not-impossible to plan for every potential problem that can arise... but we can all plan for what will probably go wrong.
Have a team discussion about your known pinch points amongst your operational procedures. Doing this may help prepare for slip-ups & headaches later.
During summer, there are many more things that are happening, so there is much more potential for missing things, finding mistakes or having random things from left-field catching us by surprise.
Be ready to keep your cool and react within your plan if things don't go correctly.
A few tips to avoid headaches:
Stock up on fixings, bolts, screws, tapes, ladders, etc
Think back across your entire offering and recall problems you had and how you overcame them.
Stock up on parts that are often lost, missing or delayed - if possible.
Pay attention to recurring problems within your control.
Measure twice (or even three times) before ordering.
With the busiest summer in recent memory at our doorstep, any mistakes, mismeasures or omissions will create havoc for your customer, you, your team and us.
We have all been guilty of it at some point, but not paying a little extra attention to details (large and small) can and will help reveal mistakes, omissions and possible problems on every job.
Attention to detail is required at every point of the process. From discussions with the customer to placing the order correctly, a double-check of the requirements and product ordered can go a long way to avoiding dreaded mistakes.
The manufacturing process is founded on a linear direction of goods & materials through many hands. Each point of the process is focussed on progressing materials mono-directionally towards completion of a new product.
Returning any awning or blind for a rework automatically pushes against this grain and requires understanding the problem, reverse engineering, rectification and re-assembly of the product. This entire process takes time and careful execution to avoid additional complications.
Please understand that this process is often slower and requires more attention than making a new awning, so please be understanding that if you or your team have made an error, it is not intentionally slow to rectify.
Circling back to the mantra of "measure twice, order once" - if dutifully followed - would alleviate every mismeasure ever made and reduce you and your teams' headache count this summer and improve everyone's bottom line.
THAT'S IT FOR NOW ....HAPPY SELLING!