The way 2007 ended, there were more questions about the economic future than certainties. The housing industry seemed to be in the worst shape, along with the mortgage industry and even Wall Street. All of this had the window coverings industry looking ahead with apprehension.
Let’s face it; this is no time for taking it easy. Like so many other businesses this industry is cyclical and has faced down times before. Things will come around, but be prepared for them to get a little worse before they get better—that’s only prudent. The right approach is to get started on an aggressive plan not only to survive 2008, but to make it a good year for your business.
There are many ways to this, and this issue has many suggestions for getting started. You might want to start with Outlook 2008 (page 64). We asked industry leaders how our readers could best prepare for the year ahead. Every response was optimistic and covered an expected increase for custom products, ideas for targeting past customers with incentives to buy again, encouragement to concentrate on customer service, opportunities to serve niche customers and advice to look to the remodeling market.
In his column this month, Steve Bursten (page 66) shows dealers and decorators how to do more business in 2008 with three appointments a week. First, you have to know who your customers are and how much they are buying. Then, with some work learning new products, marketing and selling techniques setting even modest goals can make amazing improvements.
Karla Nielson (page 48) offers this advice: Start by making a list of everything that went right in 2007. Focus on your strengths, your best customers and the projects that turned out better than you expected. For the year ahead, look to make professional or informal relationships with builders (when things get better it will be good they know who you are), become solid in offering motorization (part of the flight to luxury trend), and learn more about design—take a refresher course or obtain certification from an accrediting education source.
All of these things will help, of course, but there is one place we can think of where the help you need can be found at once: the D&WC Southern Design & Workroom Conference and Trade Show in Knoxville, TN. All the information is right here beginning on page 23.
What you really need to do to make 2008 a better year than some would expect is to take the first step: Get started!